Kids Need Chores!
Back when papers arrived on our front doorstep every morning, I cut articles out that caught my eye, hung on to them for future reference. Going through some of my archives, I can across one in the Toronto Star from April 17, 2010, titled “Hey Kids, Why Is Dad Taking Out The Trash?” by Andrea Gordon. It was a great article about why doing household chores is important for kids and the benefits they receive from pitching in.
I’ve mentioned before that I believe it’s important to get children involved in running the house. But here are some thoughts from the article that might catch your attention:
- A research study mentioned in the article, conducted in 2002 at the University of Minnesota by professor Marty Rossman, discovered that children “who began doing household tasks at an early age grew into more well-adjusted adults.” The kids in her study who began doing chores in the youngest age group, which was preschool, were the most “responsible, confident, and able to take care of themselves in adulthood.”
- Other researchers completed a review of parenting magazines, dating back to 1925, in which they found that discussion of involving children in household chores dropped off in the 1980’s.
Interesting that a focus on chores petered out right as the so-called “self esteem” movement in parenting began. The belief was that the way to promote healthy self esteem was to praise and recognize children for everything they do. The problem is, those kids are now young adults, and many are woefully unprepared for adulthood, particularly the world of work. Their moms set up their job interviews then negotiate their salaries on their behalf. And then they feel they should be rewarded, or at least recognized, for arriving at work on time.
But the funny thing is, these young adults aren’t any happier and they don’t feel any better about themselves than previous generations. This despite all of the opportunities and needing to work for little. That really isn’t too surprising. We gain true self esteem partly by feeling as though we can handle what comes our way. It’s past experience that teaches this to us. How can our children do that, though, if they are shielded from pain or even from unpleasant tasks (such as taking out the garbage)?
When I ask parents what they hope for their children as adults, they generally say that they hope they’ll be responsible, independent adults (among other things). Yet, as Ms. Gordon rightly points out in her article, “[Today’s young adults] may have mastered martial arts and piano, but they can’t find the circuit breaker panel or figure out whether the two-week-old chicken in their fridge has gone bad.” We aren’t doing our job properly if we aren’t teaching our children the self-sufficiency to take care of themselves. We need to provide opportunities for them to develop a track-record of overcoming challenges, without us always bailing them out. Will your older children love the idea of doing chores? Honestly, probably not. But like brushing their teeth, eating their veggies, and getting a good night’s sleep, getting your kids to pitch in around the house is an investment now that pays back dividends for them later.
Still not convinced how strong the connection between chores and self-esteem is? Check out a few more articles: