As parents, it is our job to teach our children financial responsibility and independence. A great way to do this is with chores. For our family, this is something we’ve been experimenting with a lot lately.
About six years ago, on a random Friday night, I came home from a long day at work. To my surprise, I saw my 5 year old daughter vacuuming our kitchen.
I asked my wife what our little one was doing, but she was just as stumped as I was.
For the past year we had been helping our daughter with her homework every Saturday morning, but she had never taken the initiative to do it by herself.
After she finished vacuuming, she asked us to leave the kitchen while she put the silverware away. She told us that she wanted it to be a surprise.
We let this cleaning frenzy continue for another 15 minutes before stopping her and asking, “Why are you doing your chores today?”
She said: “I love you. I want to help the family.”
When those words left her mouth, my heart filled with so much pride and love. Our little girl understood what it meant to be part of our family.
We don’t just express our love through words. We also express our love through action.
Now, were the spoons on top of the forks when he finished? Yeah.
Did she suck up every last Cheerio on the floor? No.
But at 5 years old we are not looking for perfection. We’re just looking for her to understand why it’s important to help and how her efforts mean a lot to us.
Fast forward to today, my daughter is now 11 years old and I am happy to report that she is not only still doing her chores but extremely helpful.
It’s not just cute anymore. The tasks you do actually make our lives more relaxing and peaceful.
He knows how to wash, dry and fold his clothes. In addition, she fills the bird feeder, empties the dishwasher, takes the garbage out, fills the cat’s dishes, vacuums the kitchen and much more.
We are raising an independent, responsible, and family-focused girl. And I am very proud of her.
And her little brother is watching her, learning from her and contributing in the same way.
Benefits of children doing chores
There are so many benefits of children doing chores. I already shared some personal benefits, but here are some more.
- You are teaching your children that being part of a family means that everyone contributes.
- They learn the importance of teamwork and collaboration (critical life skills).
- Over time, your chore skills get better and better, and before you know it, you’re a lot less overwhelmed as a parent.
- While chaos may seem like the MO to kids, structure is what they crave.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “The structure helps parents and their children. Children feel safe and secure because they know what to expect. Parents feel safe because they know how to respond and they respond the same way every time. Routines and rules help structure the home and make life more predictable.”
Housework is falling out of favor
With all the benefits associated with children’s chores, it seems to be falling out of favor in our society.
According to a recent survey of busy childfound that while more than 90% of parents say they did chores as children, only 66% of them regularly have their own children do chores.
That honestly doesn’t surprise me.
The parenting mindset might go something like this: “Well, I want my kids to have it better than I did when I was a kid. And so they don’t need to do homework.”
This is the wrong mindset in my opinion. And there is research to back it up.
A 75-year study by Harvard Grant and Glueck followed two groups of people: 268 Harvard graduates from the classes of 1939 to 1944 and 465 men who grew up in inner-city Boston slums.
Study participants were observed for more than 75 years.
What did you find?
“Researchers found that those who were given tasks as adults ended up being more independent, better able to work in collaborative groups, and better able to understand that working hard means you’re a valued member of a community.”
Those are the kinds of kids I want, and those are the kinds of community members I want, too. Homework is good for children.
First steps with tasks for children
Helping your children learn the importance of contributing to household responsibilities is a big deal. That’s why it’s important to be on the same page with your spouse about homework rules and timing.
It takes teamwork and consistency from both parents to help make this life-changing tradition a habit for your children.
Here are some of the things you should discuss with your spouse in advance:
- What are the tasks that we consider appropriate for our child?
- Which tasks should we pay for and which not?
- When is the best time and day to complete these tasks?
When we started this whole chore and reward program, my wife and I agreed that our children would have both “family chores” and “money chores.”
Family chores are activities that our children perform as family members.
Some of these chores include putting laundry in the hamper, setting the table before dinner, cleaning up after meals, and making the bed.
Money tasks are contributions that go beyond typical responsibilities.
Our 5-year-old daughter would receive $1 for each of her money-related tasks.
Some of those activities where he got cash included putting away silverware, emptying trash cans around the house, and putting away clothes (after mom and dad folded them).
We found that Saturday morning was the best time to complete money tasks with our children.
In the years that followed, we all agreed that after school would be a better time for weekends to prepare for total relaxation. I suggest you do whatever works for your family.
We do our best to stay consistent with a schedule so that it becomes our children’s normal way of life. When our children come home from school, they know that they have to complete their homework. They are used to it at this point.
My daughter, now 11, doesn’t need many reminders anymore. My 8-year-old requires a little more encouragement, but he has become much more responsible in the last year. Seeing her older sister helps a lot.
Do we miss a couple of days here and there? Absolutely.
But overall, the regular schedule has helped our children succeed and truly bring a sense of harmony into our home.
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