Benefits of giving young children chores

Giving your children chores has benefits that will last a lifetime. One study done at the University of Minnesota found that the best predictor of success for young adults in their 20s was whether they had to do chores when they were young.

Children who do chores develop skills that will help them succeed in school, in relationships, and in life. These skills include:

  • Responsibility
  • Increased frustration tolerance
  • Ability to delay gratification
  • Experience overcoming adversity
  • Time management skills
  • Organizational skills

They may also experience other benefits, including:

  • Higher self-esteem
  • Learning that work is a part of life
  • Learning to be independent
  • Having chances to succeed

Guidelines for assigning chores to a young child

You can't just put up a chore chart and expect that your child will know what to do. You'll need to explain what you want done. You’ll also need to show your child how to do it. Here are some guidelines for getting your child started with chores:

  • Introduce one chore at a time to avoid overwhelming your child.
  • Show your child how to do the chore using step-by-step instructions.
  • Post a chore chart in a place where your child will see it to serve as a reminder.
  • Plan chores around your existing family routine.
  • Reward your child with praise or small treats for doing chores and taking initiative.
  • Schedule weekly family meetings to review chores.
  • Set consequences for not completing chores.
  • Don't insist on perfection.
  • For younger children, do the chore with them until they can do it on their own.

Chores for personal responsibility

Teaching children to clean up their own mess is a great way to start with chores. Young children can understand that if they get something out or make a mess, they should clean it up. Here are some chores that 5- to 8-year-olds can do to take responsibility for themselves and their things:

  • Pick out clothes for school.
  • Make up their bed.
  • Put dirty clothes in the hamper.
  • Pick up toys before leaving the house or before going to bed.
  • Put away their laundry.
  • Wipe up spills.
  • Clean or help clean their bedroom.
  • Fix a small snack for themselves using child-safe kitchen equipment.

Chores to help the family

In addition to picking up after themselves, children should help with jobs that benefit the whole family. When children help with chores, the work gets done faster, which leaves more time for family fun. These chores will make your child feel like they're contributing to the good of the family.

Here are some family jobs that 5- to 8-year-old can do:

  • Feeding the family pet
  • Setting the table before meals
  • Folding towels and washcloths
  • Clearing the table after meals
  • Helping to sweep and mop
  • Bringing in lighter groceries
  • Emptying the dishwasher
  • Dusting
  • Sorting laundry
  • Empty small trash cans
  • Vacuuming
  • Cleaning the bathroom sink‌

Outside chores for a young child

Help your child understand that chores don't stop when they walk out the front door. Summer is a great time to have kids help with the work involved in taking care of the outside of the house, yard, and garden. Children often have more free time during the summer. Spending time outside in the fresh air and sunshine is good for them. Here are some ideas for outdoor jobs for kids:

  • Taking the trash can to the curb, with help if needed
  • Watering the garden
  • Picking up sticks and rocks so the yard can be mowed
  • Sweeping the porch or sidewalks
  • Helping to wash the car

Should you pay your child for doing chores?

Although it might seem logical to pay children for doing chores, many experts recommend against it. You don't want your child to decide that they don't need the money, so they don't need to do chores. Children should do chores because chores need to be done, not because they're being paid. An allowance is a great tool for teaching kids to manage money, but it shouldn't be tied to doing chores.

Once you've decided on a chore plan, praise and encouragement should be your child's reward. For children who procrastinate or forget their chores, a good rule is that chores must be done before fun. Don't allow electronics or other playtime activities until chores have been completed. Don’t nag, yell, or put down your children. Calm consistency is the key to reinforcing the chore habit.

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Medically Reviewed on 10/21/2021
References
SOURCCES:

American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: "Chores and Children."

University of Minnesota: "INVOLVING CHILDREN IN HOUSEHOLD TASKS: IS IT WORTH THE EFFORT?"

Healthychildren.org: "My daughter can't seem to get her chores done without us nagging her. How can we avoid this daily battle?"

Children's Wisconsin: "How to assign age-appropriate chores to children."

Intermountain Healthcare: "Age-Appropriate Chores For Kids."

Raising Children Network (Australia): "Household chores for children."

Child Development Institute: "The Reason Children Should Do Chores is Because it's Good for Them."