A few weeks ago I called my daughter Candace to catch up. I knew it was the first day of summer break for her kids so I asked, “Are you gearing up to have the kids home all summer?” (Mind you, she has four kids plus a stepson ranging in ages from 14 years old to 9 months.)
“Oh dad, no worries here. We are on summer schedule and everyone has their own clipboard.” Hmm… My ears perked up.
“Their own clipboard?” I inquired.
Candace proceeded to tell me how each child has a chart listing the daily and weekly chores. The chart is on their clipboard. She went on to describe parents’ expectations about compliance. This included the structure of when chores are done, attitude, and completion. No TV or playtime is allowed until chores are finished.
Old school. I love it!
“How do you handle non-compliance?” I asked.
“We have a few options. They may get a loss of privilege, extra chores, or push-ups/sit-ups.”
I couldn’t help myself. “You mean you give them exercises to do?”“Yeah dad. My kids are the most physically fit in the neighborhood. Push-ups and sit-ups work real well. Gianna’s gymnastics coach says she is in excellent shape!” (Gianna is my 8 year old granddaughter. You can see her chart on the left.)
Watching my daughter’s family in action is pretty cool. You might think I am biased (to some degree yes) but Candace and Joshua (her husband) have well-behaved and respectful kids. Last weekend I took my oldest grandchild Cameron to Cedar Point Amusement Park in honor of his 8th grade graduation. We had a great time. He insisted on paying for lunch on Sunday to honor his “Papa” on Father’s Day. How cool is that!
Old vs New School Parenting
Parents today educate themselves on raising children more than past generations. They are more health conscious and value nutrition, proper sleep, early education, and participation in sports, the arts, and social activities. Parents invest time, energy, and financial resources to ensure their kids have every opportunity to succeed in life.
A child-focused approach is important, but can be taken to an extreme. Some parents do way too much for their kids and require little in return. Too much attention unwittingly breeds a sense of entitlement in kids. They may become bossy, uncooperative, and act immature. Kids who have too much done for them become takers, not givers.
I also like the “old school” approach of teaching kids that making a contribution is a part of what it means to belong in your family. Here are five reasons why kids need chores.
Kids need chores to develop autonomy
Autonomy a.k.a. independence is the endgame in human growth and development. As early as two years old, children are practicing autonomy. You may recognize it as “the terrible twos”!
Teaching kids responsibility by giving them age-appropriate chores prepares them for adult autonomy. If children are not given chores they will not know how to take care of themselves as adults. On the other hand, giving your kids chores at an early age encourages their autonomous development. Putting toys away, making their beds, cleaning their rooms, is a good start!
[Tweet “Teaching kids responsibility by giving them age-appropriate chores prepares them for adult autonomy.”]
Kids need chores to learn personal responsibility
Kids without chores focus only on the rights of independence when they enter adulthood. Kids with chores understand the balance of rights and responsibilities in adulthood. Many kids today delegate responsibilities to their parents. Anxious and frustrated parents find themselves picking up after their kids, cleaning their messes, and fixing their problems. Kids will delay taking action knowing that a parent will eventually cave and do it for them.
Giving your kids chores and holding them responsible will help them learn cause and effect. Chores done properly on time yields free time. Non-compliance results in some form of restriction–or in Gianna’s case–sit-ups!
Kids need chores to contribute to the family
An over-focused child-centered family sends a wrong message to kids. They mistakenly believe they are the most important figure(s) in the family. These kids view parents as servants who cater to their needs. They give approving/disapproving messages to control their parents. Sadly, some parents fearing a negative reaction placate kids to avoid conflict.
Giving kids chores establishes hierarchy in the family with the balance of power weighted on the side of the parents. Kids learn that to be a part of the family involves making a contribution to the system.
[Tweet “Giving kids chores establishes hierarchy in the family with the balance of power weighted on the side of the parents.”]
Kids need chores to build confidence
Mastering chores gives kids a sense of accomplishment. This builds their confidence. Kids who rely on parents to do things for them struggle with confidence and competency when they are older. Consequently as adults, they depend on their parents help for things they should be able to handle on their own.
Kids benefit from exercising their problem-solving skills. Giving them chores aids in this process. As they learn how to master chores their industry skills also sharpen. Problem-solving and industry skills build confidence. It may require some coaching on your part, but after awhile your kids will learn how to do things on their own.
Kids need chores to support their parents
In most family households both parents work. I was raised by dual income parents back in the sixties when it was uncommon. At an early age, my parents trained me how to make my bed, clean my room, and take out the trash. Chores were added as I grew older. As an adult, I thanked my parents for giving me chores and teaching me personal responsibility. Adulthood wasn’t as intimidating because I was well-prepared.
More importantly, I understood my parents were working hard to provide for me and my siblings. We needed to pitch in and help.
Doing chores is a way to show respect to parents. You provide all the comforts of a home to your children. Additionally, you care about their well-being and go the second mile to ensure their needs are met. Your kids see you working hard from dawn to dusk. They need to understand that it is important to support you. One of the ways they can is by doing chores.
Now it’s your turn
Do you give age-appropriate chores to your kids? Good for you! You are preparing them to take on the world.
If you currently do not have your kids doing chores on a regular basis, now is the time to begin. I listed some resources below for you to help you get started. No matter how old your kids are, it is never too late to begin.
Here are some great resources to start.
Books: Winning The Chores Wars, Kids Chores & More
Resources: Free Chore Charts