The benefits of chores for teenagers

Your teenager probably has a lot going on. At this age, teens are becoming more and more independent and peer-focused. Your older teenager may already seem to have one foot out the door. However, teens can still benefit from doing chores and you can benefit from their help. 

If your teenager isn't used to doing chores, it's not too late to start. When your teen does chores and receives positive reinforcement from you, they're able to feel they've made a significant contribution. This gives them a feeling of competence and confidence. It also strengthens family bonds and gives them the skills they'll need to succeed on their own.

Chores are especially important since they often train teens in the skills they'll need to function on their own. A child who has never learned to cook a meal or clean a bathroom will not be prepared to live on their own or pull their weight if they live with others.

Chores and homework

High school can be demanding. If your child is carrying a heavy academic load and has a lot of homework, you may be tempted to give them a pass on chores. While homework can certainly seem like a chore, it shouldn't be an excuse for your teen not to contribute to the household. After all, they'll have to balance their work schedule with cooking and cleaning when they eventually move out.

Requiring that your child do household chores in addition to school, homework, and extracurricular activities teaches them to juggle different responsibilities. It also contributes to their time management and planning skills.

Chores and paid work

As with homework, it's not a good idea to let paid work be an excuse not to do chores at home. Adults are expected to manage work and chores. While you may want to cut back on the number of chores your child is expected to do when they start working, they should still have some responsibilities at home.

Chores at home

There aren’t many chores teenagers aren't capable of doing. Chores at this age have the double purpose of accomplishing a job and preparing your child for adulthood. With this in mind, you should give your teen chores that will train them for independent living. If you're giving your child a new chore, you will still need to explain it and demonstrate how to do it. Some good chores for teenagers include:

  • Keeping their room clean
  • Putting away their belongings
  • Keeping track of commitments and deadlines
  • Doing laundry and folding clothes
  • Preparing dinner for the family once a week
  • Setting and clearing the table
  • Doing the dishes
  • Taking care of family pets
  • Preparing lunches for school
  • Babysitting siblings
  • Vacuuming, sweeping, and dusting
  • Cleaning the bathroom
  • Washing the car
  • Cutting grass and other yard work
  • Budgeting
  • Cleaning out the refrigerator

Driving chores

Once your teen has a driver's license, they can do chores that require transportation. This is a great opportunity for your teen to combine trips to school or home with useful chores. Here are some chores that driving teens can do:

  • Shopping for groceries
  • Picking up dry cleaning, medications, etc.
  • Taking the car in for repairs or maintenance
  • Taking siblings to school

Consequences of not doing chores for teens

Even though they live in adult-sized bodies, teenagers' brains are not fully developed. Their frontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that deals with rational decision-making, is still growing. Because of this, teens don't always make the best decisions. However, they've outgrown many of the discipline measures that worked when they were younger.

When you're disciplining a teenager who hasn't done their chores, it's best to remain calm. You'll be modeling patience and thoughtfulness, which are qualities you want your teen to emulate. For chores that affect your teen, such as doing their laundry, the best option is to let them suffer the consequences of not doing it. When they realize they have no clean clothes, chances are they'll realize the importance of washing them.

If your teen is avoiding a chore that affects the rest of the family, such as mowing the lawn, you have a few options. You can hire someone to do it and insist your teen pay for it. You can also restrict their access to their phone or other electronics until the job is done. The key to successfully enforcing consequences without harming your relationship is to do so calmly.

QUESTION

Teens need how many hours of sleep per night? See Answer

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Medically Reviewed on 10/15/2021
References
Sources:

Healthychildren.org: "Household Chores for Adolescents."

National Mental Health and Education Center: "Teenagers and Chores."

Boys Town: "Appropriate Consequences for Chore-Ditching Teens."