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by Brittney Schrick - March 25, 2016
I hear it all the time, "Kids today have it so easy! Back in my day, we had to do
chores, but kids are handed everything now!" People of all ages and different generations,
including kids themselves, have a similar view of children today: They don't earn
their keep. That is certainly not true of all children and families, and it may not
be true of yours; however, parenting trends have moved, over the last generation or
so, toward doing things for kids that they can do for themselves. The prevailing view
is often that kids have enough on their plates with school and extra curricular activities,
and that forcing them to work at home, and enduring the whining and crying that will
likely follow, colors already limited time between parents and children with negativity
instead of joy. Additionally, for parents, "forcing" kids to do things they don't
want to feels bad! It goes against how much of our current parenting advice is interpreted:
Don't upset your kid or they will be scarred for life.
What is often ignored in the quest for stress-free (i.e., whine-free) family time
is that having several members of a household who are capable of helping but don't
is stressful for the adults, and, wait for it, kids actually LIKE helping!
First things first, do you have a chore routine? If so, great! If not, how do you
There are lots of resources online that give, often conflicting, advice regarding
the implementation of a chore routine. Some will tell you to give an allowance as
an incentive; others will say NEVER give an allowance as it teaches children to value
money over the satisfaction of working toward a goal. There is more research to support
the latter stance; however, every child is different, and every family is different.
Ultimately, what will be most effective is consistency, positive reinforcement for
a job well-done, and consequences for lack of completion of assigned chores. If your
child gets paid for completing chores but experiences no consequences for not completing
chores, then they will only complete them when they need money. Offering consequences
such as an earlier bedtime, reduced screen time, removal of privileges, or exclusion
from a favorite activity until chores are completed will help your child understand
the importance of this responsibility. Have a plan and stick to it, but if it isn't
working, be willing to revise it. Communication and consistency between parents and
with children is key.
When assigning chores, make sure they are developmentally and age-appropriate and
that your child has all the tools and knowledge to complete the task effectively.
Some tasks may take several tries to get right, and patience is very important. Older
children will be capable of more complex tasks as well as more tasks in general. Younger
children will require more guidance and fewer steps. It would be inappropriate, for
example, to tell your 3-year-old, "Go clean your room," and to leave them to that
task without help and guidance. "Pick up your animals and put them in the toy box,"
is more appropriate. They will likely require supervision and reminding, as they are
easily distracted. It is, however, appropriate to tell your 12-year-old, "Go clean
your room," and to expect them to complete it with minimal follow-up.
Here is a handy reference chart that may give you ideas for age-appropriate chores for your kids. There are also lots
of ideas online such as charts, magnet boards, and apps that can help you and your child manage their assignments.
To read more:
Follow UAEX Family Life on Pinterest! https://www.pinterest.com/UAEXFamilyLife/
Contact your county extension agent or visit http://www.uaex.uada.edu/life-skills-wellness/personal-family-well-being/parenting/journey.aspx to learn more great parenting tips!
Why Children Need Chores: http://www.wsj.com/articles/why-children-need-chores-1426262655
Chores Are Good for Kids: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/thinking-about-kids/201102/chores-are-good-kids
How Kids Benefit from Chores: http://www.wired.com/2012/06/chores-benefit-kids/