Relentless. That was the key word describing modern parenting in an article in the New York Times. Parenting these days is just plain demanding.
Fortunately, there’s one piece of parenting advice that’s scientifically proven to help kids be more successful adults. Best of all, this nugget of child-rearing wisdom can make parenthood a little easier too. Giving your kids age-appropriate chores will help them develop a whole list of skills that will help them do well in adulthood.
Benefits of Chores for Kids
Giving kids chores does more than teach them the importance of separating the garbage into colored trash bags. Research shows that kids who had chores grew to be adults with greater empathy and responsibility. They have better relationships and are more successful in their careers.
Another study found that kids who did chores when they were in kindergarten performed better in third grade than their chore-less peers. Researchers even found that chores had a positive impact on math scores. Chores help kids develop “self-competence, prosocial behavior, and self-efficacy.”
Giving your kids chores helps them feel like their contributions matter. They learn how to set priorities and fulfill responsibilities. Chores will help your kids build confidence and self-esteem.
Tips for Giving Your Kids Chores
We know what you’re thinking. It’s a battle getting your kid to eat his green beans. Getting him to consistently load the dishwasher seems like a pipe dream.
The reality of parenting is that kids push back on things that are good for them, including chores. If we’re honest, we don’t like doing dishes either. Here are some tips for getting your kids to do chores.
- Teach them how to do the chore. Tell them the dishwasher won’t clean dried food off the plate and that’s why it’s important to rinse the dishes thoroughly. Or explain that the knick-knacks need to come off the shelf to dust it properly.
- Recognize their efforts. They’re not going to do it as well as you would, at least not at first. Rather than pointing out how they fell short, thank them for their help. Work, in itself, is satisfying, and when we emphasize the positive emotional rewards of working hard, kids will be more likely to do their chores. Over time, they’ll perform better.
- Incorporate family time into chores. Working together to clean the kitchen creates time for bonding and creating positive memories. Kids will learn that chores contribute to the emotional well-being of the entire family.
Give Your Kids Age-Appropriate Chores
Kids can start helping out earlier than you think. The Harvard Grant Study is the longest-running study of human behavior. Researchers followed children into adulthood for decades. They found chores in childhood were the greatest predictor of success, and the earlier kids do chores the better.
Understandably, you don’t want to eat off a plate your toddler put in the dishwasher. Below, we’ve listed chores developmentally appropriate to your child’s age.
Age-Appropriate Chores for Toddlers
At two or three years old, your child can sort objects, imitate behavior and can do exciting footwork like standing on their tippy-toes.
- Put toys away.
- Put dirty clothes in the hamper.
- Bring items to you, such as the dirty cup on the table.
- Separate blocks and Duplos.
Age-Appropriate Chores for Preschoolers
At four or five years old, your child can navigate stairs and kick a ball. They imitate adults and know how to take turns. They understand some things are “mine” while other things aren’t.
- Put away the clean silverware.
- Feed the pet, with supervision.
- Clear the table after dinner.
- Put away toys.
Age-Appropriate Chores for Grade Schoolers
Grade school is a period of many changes, both physically and emotionally. Chores offer a safe space to further develop the executive functioning skills they need to be successful at school. Chores also help kids develop healthy self-esteem as they navigate increasing social pressures.
- Empty the dishwasher.
- Cook simple recipes.
- Match socks.
- Clean the kitchen.
- Take care of pets.
Age-Appropriate Chores for Teens
Perched on the final stepping stone before adulthood, teens can practice greater responsibility and accountability with chores. Since they’re also asserting their independence, you’ll likely receive more pushback when insisting your teens finish their chores.
- Cook dinner once a week.
- Washi, fold and put away laundry.
- Babysit younger siblings.
- Take out the black garbage bags and sort the recycling.
- Load and unload the dishwasher.
- Mow the lawn.
Giving your kids chores is more than a scientifically proven way to help them succeed as adults. By giving them chores, you’re also easing the relentless demands of modern parenting. Because even though it’s important to learn to play an instrument, it’s even more important to learn how to contribute.