Teaching Your Children Responsibility
In the recent book, How to Raise an Adult, published by Julies Lythcott-Haims giving children chores at an early age can help them develop life-long skills needed to be successful as an adult, including responsibility, self-confidence, and maturity. Chores help kids develop responsibility, self-sufficiency, and determination.
Children that have been assigned age-appropriate chores gain a sense of accomplishment. A University of Minnesota study followed children over a 20-year period and found that the best indicator of success related to school, a job, and a relationship was related to whether or not the young adult was asked to complete chores at an early age. Many times as early as age 3 or 4.
According to a long-running study of inner-city males by Harvard University, the best predictor of mental health in adulthood was the willingness and ability to work in childhood. That work ethic was a better predictor than the young man’s family problems or social class.
So how do you determine what chores are appropriate in your child’s already busy life? First, determine what chores your child is capable of doing. For example, even a 3 or 4-year-old can help make their bed every morning. Older children can learn to put away groceries, do dishes, vacuum, do laundry or a variety of other household chores. It is important to understand your child’s capability.
If you give a chore to your young child it is important that you accept that the chore might not be done perfectly. What is most important is that the child learns to complete the chore. Work with your child to encourage them to continue to improve how well the chore is done. Remember to give praise for a job well done.
Age 3-4: help make their bed, pick up toys before bed-time, or help put away laundry
Age 5-7: set the table, help carry groceries, match socks, feed a pet, or pick out clothes
Age 8-11: do dishes, rake leaves, put laundry away, or take out the trash
Age 12-14: Vacuum, clean bathrooms, prepare meals, or change sheets
Age 15-18: yard work, babysit, laundry, or shopping for the family
For additional ideas on age appropriate chores check out the list from the Focus on the Family website.
Pick a chore that is appropriate for your child. Whether you decide to give an allowance or not to your child is your choice. It is important for children to understand that not all chores result in money. As an adult they will be expected to be able to care for themselves and work to have opportunities; not everything one does results in a paycheck, however, that doesn’t make it any less important to do.
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