If we teach our children to read, to cross the street with care, to be kind, to keep their teeth clean and to go to bed at a reasonable hour, why shouldn’t we teach them to contribute to household chores and take responsibility for their home? It goes without saying that age matters, which is why there are some chores that small children will find difficult, or that could even put them at risk. Selecting the appropriate household responsibilities is important.
It’s also a really good idea to have the right kind of cleaning equipment in place to make chores both fun and stress-free, for everyone. Be sure to invest in childproof cleaning products, the best vacuum for hardwood floors, feather dusters to make it easier to get to out-of-reach corners and a small stool to help shorter children access kitchen surfaces and sinks with ease.
How do children benefit from helping with chores?
Cleaning is an essential life skill that helps children to feel like a contributing member of the family. It prepares them for when they start living away from home, whether that be in their own apartment, sharing with friends, or even living with a partner. They will be able to cook, clean, iron and tidy, without having to ask for help from others. That kind of independence is incredibly empowering, even if they don’t recognize the importance of it on a conscious level.
Household chores teach younger children essential problem-solving skills, mathematical concepts and what it means to be part of a family or part of a community that works together. Encouraging our children to do chores at home can even help them to become great leaders in their future endeavors.
Should you provide incentives?
Many parents choose to offer incentives to children in exchange for completing household chores, including an allowance, but this isn’t necessarily the best approach to take. The good thing about giving a child an allowance for household chores is that he or she begins to learn important financial skills from an early age. However, as parents, we don’t receive an allowance for making the bed, washing the dishes, tidying up and cooking the dinner. It can be counterproductive to teach a child that all household chores are rewarded with money, because life just doesn’t work like that.
An allowance could be offered for special tasks that children choose to do above and beyond what’s generally expected of everyone who lives under the same roof. These tasks might include mowing the lawn, washing the car, doing a thorough house clean, or maybe even sorting out the things in their room into “keep, donate and sell” piles.
What types of chores are best suited to your child’s age range?
Even young children can contribute on a daily basis. They can be responsible for picking up toys and books, putting their clothes away and helping before dinner to put the placemats out on the table. Young children love responsibility, because they dream of being able to do what all the older people around them are already allowed to do. If we can make the completion of these chores fun at the same time, by doing them to music perhaps, the results will be even more effective.
Once a child gets to four or five years of age, he or she can begin to take on more responsibility by helping to prepare meals, sorting the washed clothes belonging to all members of the family into separate piles, putting the groceries away, hanging wet clothes out to dry and setting the table before dinner. The preparation of meals can extend to learning how to make cakes, pancakes, biscuits and other tasty recipes as a way of sparking their creative streak.
Children between six and nine will be able to help look after plants, feed any pets, take the garbage out, clean bathroom and kitchen surfaces, do a little light dusting and learn to fold dry clothes. By the time they reach high school age, they should be able to prepare basic meals for themselves and the family, help with all types of cleaning (including the vacuuming), wash, iron and mow the lawn. They should be so naturally accustomed to contributing that the thought of protesting doesn’t even occur to them
Benefits all round
On a final note, it’s worth pointing out that it’s not only children who benefit from learning how to do household chores. Parents do as well. There’s no better way of building a strong, healthy relationship with your child than doing things with them and mutually respecting the space in which you both live. Completing household chores together can really help generate a close bond between you.