The research is clear. Children who have chores do better as adults. In a 75 year(!!) long study by Harvard, they found out that the best way to assure success is to develop a “pitch-in” attitude — and that means making kids do chores.
It only makes sense, really. When kids do chores, they learn so much. Not just the life skills of cooking, cleaning and taking care of themselves, but the soft skills and values that will serve them well as adults. The mindset of “someone’s gotta do it, it might as well be me” isn’t developed as well using any other method.
Children learn lots from doing chores.
First, there’s the obvious life skills.
When your children help with the dishes and the laundry, they learn the basics of keeping a home running. Cooking, sweeping, cleaning and yard work are basic skills that every adult needs to know, just to survive and be healthy.
Not only are they learning the obvious life skills, but they also learn the less obvious ones, such as basic hygiene and how to stay healthy. After all, if you don’t clean the crud off the counter, you could get sick real quick. And no one wants to live in grime and dirt.
You also teach them to take pride in ownership. When they do the work into keeping their rooms nice, chances are, after a while, they’ll probably value the space and work to keep it that way. Hard work has a way of doing that.
Second, there are the “soft skills” of chores.
I’ve required my children to help out around the house as soon as they are old enough to put away their own toys. And now, they have picked up some neat skills. For example, my middle daughters will often do dishes — without being asked! That’s great initiative. And my younger one will often just pick up the shoes, coats and hats and put them away — because she had the observation skills to notice that it needed to be done.
Chores teach work ethic and responsibility. They teach people to be sensitive to the needs of others, and to value the hard work that goes into cleanliness and hospitality.
And all those soft skills are essential for future success at whatever career they choose. Initiative is valuable if you’re a server at a busy restaurant or the CEO of Apple. Being responsible is important, both as a tradesman and as an accountant. And having a good work ethic is necessary for any job — or you won’t have a job for too long!
Finally, chores teach values.
You know all those values you hope your kids will have as they grow? Things like thoughtfulness, kindness, being helpful — those are all taught by doing chores.
It starts when they’re young and “helping” mom and dad pick up their toys, make their beds or set the table. They may not do the best job, but they’re learning that being helpful is appreciated.
When I see my girls having swept the dining room or put away all the dishes, I thank them for their kindness. While I expect my kids to help out and do chores, when they do those chores, they are being kind. And generally they’re working together to do them too!
Chores also help teach a sense of duty and a spirit of volunteerism, especially when they are expected to be done without a reward (like an allowance). As they get older, those values translate into people who run for public office out of a desire to help, not a power trip. And those are the people we want running things around here, right?
Chores help create the future.
Who knew that merely requiring your children to help out around the house had so many benefits? But it’s true! While kids should help out with the chores simply because they’re part of the family and live in the home, they learn so much more.
Chores are like a preventative medicine for entitlement, and a way to lay a foundation for a better future. And that’s not just for your children, but for the whole world.
Do your kids have chores?