Great reasons for getting the kids involved in housework
Although most of us dream about getting some help around the house — a full-time maid or maybe even an entire cleaning staff — curiously, some of us wouldn’t dream of getting our children to help out. With today’s busy lifestyles, it may be faster to do the job yourself, or involve less hassle. However, according to Dr. Edward Hallowell, author of The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness (Ballentine Books, 2003), getting your children to be mother’s little helpers actually helps them as much as it helps you.
"Doing chores and assuming other responsibilities are an important part of growing up that we parents should not let slide," says Hallowell. And, studies prove it. "Children who do chores around the house and then, when they are old enough, get a paid job outside the home for a few hours a week tend to develop the can-do, want-to-do feeling," he adds.
"Believe it or not, one of the most concrete, practical ways a parent can help a child feel industrious rather than inferior is to insist that the child do chores," he finds. "If you do not do this, the child is at risk of developing one of the worst afflictions a parent can create: a sense of entitlement."
Here are a few of his suggestions for making it work:
Explain to your kids the reason everyone should do work around the house, namely, that it is important for everyone to contribute to the family, because maintaining a family requires a lot of work.
Try to involve the kids in a discussion of who ought to do which chore. It’s always easier to enforce an agreement than an edict.
Pick chores that are reasonable and tailored to what the child can do. For example, he says, "Tucker, our youngest, can’t quite handle setting the table, but he can clear his own plate, so he does that, and he can feed the dogs, so he does that, too."
If you decide to give an allowance, don’t consider the allowance a reward for doing the chores. Parents should expect their children to make a contribution to the work of the family.
In the end, Hallowell reminds us: "You may think it is hokey to use words like responsibility and contribution, but they are important words for children to hear, especially in the context of doing chores and work. They may roll their eyes at you when you say those words, but they will remember them, and their work will feel more meaningful if they can connect it to words like responsibility and contribution. So take a chance. Be hokey."