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Kids and Household Chores

I am an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and a mother of four! We deal with our share of challenges and celebrate our blessings.

Although some parents claim there are disadvantages to assigning children household chores, there are many advantages as well.

Although some parents claim there are disadvantages to assigning children household chores, there are many advantages as well.

Why Give Chores?

There is some debate between parents about the benefits and viability of assigning chores to their kids, but if each member of the family has household chores they are responsible for, it brings everyone together as a team. Children need to feel like they are a part of something and the family is the most important team there is. Everyone wants to feel needed and necessary in their family.

When a task is completed, regardless how big or small, everyone gets a feeling of satisfaction and pride in their work.

Chores also provide a necessary appreciation for all that goes into running a house and family schedule. Children often take the details for granted because it’s always been done for them.

It really isn’t fair to get angry or frustrated with a child for behaving entitled or ungrateful if they aren’t being taught responsibility and appreciation. Unfortunately, those traits aren’t instinctual.

Kids and Chores

Children learn more from doing chores than just how to do dishes or clean the bathroom.

Consistent responsibilities teach kids many necessary skills such as:

  • Time management
  • Pride
  • The power of accomplishment
  • Humility
  • Empathy
  • Appreciation
  • Personal empowerment
  • Ingenuity
Cleaning Supplies

Cleaning Supplies

Why Not Give Chores?

A few of the most common reasons that parents don’t consistently assign chores are:

1. It takes time and patience to teach children how to do the chore initially

There is no doubt that the parent or caregiver could have done the job 3 times in. the time it takes to have the child do it once. Teaching a child to clean something or organize something the right way can be tedious and maddening for the adult.

It’s important to focus on the big picture and remind yourself of all the life lessons that the child is learning from the process. These are necessary life lessons that kids need as they become young adults. It’s a dirty job but if the parents and caregivers don’t do it, who will?

2. My child and I just end up arguing because they really don’t want to do it. It is just easier to do it all myself.

Although chores are important, they aren’t always well received by the kids who now have to help do them. One way to implement responsibility without going to battle is to talk about it ahead of time. If there is an open discussion about why chores are necessary and when they will start, there will be a much easier transition. Is it easier to do them yourself? Of course it is! The actual chore isn’t the point, the lesson is in the doing.

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3. I end up feeling like Cinderella’s step-mom.

A few phrases are frequently spoken when chores are suggested:

  • Childhood only happens once so they should enjoy it,
  • Kids should be kids,
  • They have their whole lives to worry about chores so why start now?

These are all true to a certain extent. It isn’t suggested or recommended that children assume all of the responsibilities of the household. Chores should be age appropriate and limited to one or two so there is always time for the most important things: family time, school work and activities, and play.

Separate Out the Responsibilities Appropriately

That being said, it is certainly not too much to ask for a child or teenager to be responsible for one or two of the twenty+ chores that need to be done per week. If everyone has different responsibilities that make the house run smoothly, there shouldn’t be any reason for the parent or caregiver to feel like they are turning their child into the maid.

Parents and caregivers aren’t doing their children any favors when they do everything for them. Quite the opposite is true actually. When kids enter the adult world without knowing basic skills of taking care of themselves and being accountable for things, they struggle immensely. That really isn’t fair to the kids. They count on the adults in their lives to lead them and teach them what they need to be happy and productive grown-ups.

Cleaning Supplies

Cleaning Supplies

What Chores Are Best?

There are universal family responsibilities and there are chores that are unique to individual families.

The common chores are a great place to start because they are skills kids will need to have when they are adults. Some good examples are: doing dishes, vacuuming or sweeping the floors, cleaning the bathroom, washing windows and laundry. No matter how big or small their future home is, it's a pretty good bet that these jobs will need to be taken care of.

Responsibilities like feeding pets, washing cars or lawn care can be different for each family. These are also a great way to get kids involved as long as they are safe and age appropriate.

Boy Chopping Celery

Boy Chopping Celery

Making Meals

As kids get older it is suggested that adding cooking duties to the chore list is necessary.

Many children grow into young adults without knowing how to feed themselves. I know it sounds ridiculous but food doesn't come in a box or out of a fast food bag, they don’t know what to do with it.

Some kids have a wonderful curiosity and love to learn how to cook. Those parents are so lucky! Other kids simply aren't interested in learning much about what happens in the kitchen.

When children are responsible for making their own lunch or preparing one dinner per week (or month), they learn an appreciation for preparing food even if they never really develop a passion for it.

Of course the menu selection will need to be approved by an adult, otherwise they may serve frozen pizza or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Example Chore List

Example Chore List

Ease The Transition

Daily or weekly chores are not punishments, they are a part of learning and growing.

One way to make the child feel like they are part of the family team when it comes to responsibilities is to have them help decide what to do and when.

Make a list of all the duties that are done on a regular basis to make the home and family run smoothly, have them pick one or two (depending on age) that they will be in charge of and help them pick a specific time that job will be completed.

It will be really helpful for everyone if this is posted somewhere visible in the house like the refrigerator or another common area. Any new routine requires a little time to get used to and a visual reminder is a good way to make that happen.

When the child is young remind them the day before and hours before so it won’t be a surprise when it’s time to do it.

As they get older, fewer reminders are necessary.

By the time kids are in their teens, they shouldn’t be reminded at all because the purpose of assigning the chores is to teach time management and responsibility. If the parent or caregiver needs to nag and remind the teen every time they need to get something done, the lesson is getting lost.

Comments

Roxanne Lewis (author) from Washington on August 13, 2012:

Thank you adjkp25! I have always felt that way as well. There are times when I fear we are the minority however :)

David from Idaho on August 13, 2012:

Both of our kids have chores around the house that they are responsible for. We feel that they live here too and they can help in the upkeep of the house and the outside too.

It also teaches them what they will need to do when they get out on their own so why not?

Great ideas, voted up and useful and congrats on the HOTD!

Lady Luv from Webster, MA, USA on August 07, 2012:

Excellent article! I fully agree, and have been trying to convince my oldest son of these points for his entire life. It's usually still an "Awww mooooom" before dish day, but he does his part, and is proud when he gets praise for a job well done. Wonderful hub!

Jason Licerio from Philippines on August 07, 2012:

When I was a kid I never really did any chores because we have a helper in our house.

But because I read this hub, I'll definitely give chores to my kids.

Roxanne Lewis (author) from Washington on July 31, 2012:

Thanks Amy! I found that when the kids see how much the adults actually do, they stop feeling sorry for themselves as much. :)

Amy Gillie from Indiana on July 31, 2012:

I love the "team" mentality and adding mom and dad to the chore list!

Roxanne Lewis (author) from Washington on July 29, 2012:

My boys are also learning to be self-sufficient and it makes me proud and sad at the same time but I certainly wouldn't change it. I see many situations where kids are helpless and that is even sader. We are raising adults not overgrown children, right? :)

Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on July 28, 2012:

My kids (sons) grew up with the understanding that they had to become self-sufficient around the house. They know how to cook, do laundry, yard work, repairs, clean (well, they aren't that great at it) and other chores. They're grown now, but I used to cringe when seeing friends who waited on their kids hand and foot. That is especially the case with sons, sometimes. Great hub - voted up and up!

Roxanne Lewis (author) from Washington on July 26, 2012:

Marco, I completely agree with you! :)

Marco on July 26, 2012:

Kids that are managed well serve as better members of society. http://www.micoequipment.com.

Roxanne Lewis (author) from Washington on July 25, 2012:

Thank you UMHiram! I really appreciate your comment and I have no doubt I am only one of many many followers to come! :)

U M Hiram from Midwest on July 25, 2012:

Great Hub Roxanne, I do believe in children & chores ... just ask my son & nephew :o) Also, thanks for being my first follower. I look forward to reading more of your work.

temuco on July 25, 2012:

increible ver a un niño trabajaR asi.

http://temucanos.cl/

thussaysnanamarie on July 23, 2012:

My sentiments exactly. I also have included this in my hub on tips for single parents. I am a great believer in children contributing and insist they should not be paid because they make part of the mess. They will be grateful for the experience in the end as my children do not stop telling me. I do think it should be introduced matter of factly as fact of life and for health and safety. Fun can be brought into it but it still needs to be done.

Madeleine Salin from Finland on July 23, 2012:

Congratulations on the HOTD! I really liked reading this hub. It's very easy to follow and well written. My children are still small, but they feed the cats and as parents we have them help with simple things. Children can do so much more than we tend to believe.

Roxanne Lewis (author) from Washington on July 22, 2012:

That's one lucky nephew you have there! Thank you! :)

Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on July 22, 2012:

My nephew is just 2 years but his mother makes him sort out clothes, keep books in the self, and fetch things. The child does this happily as if that was a play.

Thanks for sharing great parenting advice.

Congrats for well deserved HOTD.

Roxanne Lewis (author) from Washington on July 22, 2012:

Thank you alissaroberts! Good luck with the chore chart :)

Alissa Roberts from Normandy, TN on July 22, 2012:

Really great advice in this hub for parents everywhere! I make sure that my boys help around the house but I really need to buckle down and make one of those handy dandy chore charts. Congrats on your hub of the day!

Keeley Shea from Norwich, CT on July 22, 2012:

Congrats on hub of the day! Well deserved! My kids are not benefiting from chores...I think its time!

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on July 22, 2012:

What awesome advice, and so helpful for the parents of young children. They do need to do chores, it teaches them so many concepts. Responsibility, and like you say, pride in accomplishment. This will be so helpful to so many!

Roxanne Lewis (author) from Washington on July 22, 2012:

Thank you Hui! ;)

Hui (蕙) on July 22, 2012:

This is a unique topic. Obviously, you've got a lot experience in this area, and you seem so happy with this work. Helpful information and I love all those pictures.

ChauntelSimmons on July 22, 2012:

Very well said and I loved the photos. As a homemaker and big time believer in empowerment this just confirms why we run our household the way we do. Everyone has responsibilities and shares the load. There is nothing worse than a young adult leaving home, getting out into the world, and being clueless about what to do. Thanks again and keep up the great work! I'll be reading!

Roxanne Lewis (author) from Washington on July 22, 2012:

kittythedreamer, I loved 4! It really is the perfect age to start 'helping'. Kids really enjoy it at that age and they get so much pride from a job well done. :)

Kitty Fields from Summerland on July 22, 2012:

My daughter is 4 years old and she already helps out with cleaning. She helps by wiping down the kitchen cabinets (the ones she can reach), she helps dust our furniture, and she also feeds our cat. And she actually really enjoys it! I also have her clean her own room and toys, and help with her laundry. I want her to be a kid but to also learn team-work and responsibility. :)

Urmila from Rancho Cucamonga,CA, USA on July 22, 2012:

Great suggestion. My two daughters always helped me even they are teenage now. Doing chores is very important lesson in kids life to build good foundation. Voted up and Congratulations on Hub of the day award!

Roxanne Lewis (author) from Washington on July 22, 2012:

DzyMsLizzy, I remember saying the same things to my parents! :)

Roxanne Lewis (author) from Washington on July 22, 2012:

Desertarmor, I bet it's helpful for you and them! :)

Desertarmor from Arizona on July 22, 2012:

Totally awesome hub, I could not agree more, My 2 step boys 6 and 9 both have their own chores and it is so helpful!

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on July 22, 2012:

Congrats on HOTD! Well-presented and valid reasons. My own kids are long since grown and with families of their own--my eldest grandchild is 19; the youngest is 4.

I tried and tried and tried and struggled to involve my girls in chores and 'teaching responsibility' when they were young. I had only the 2 kids, so it wasn't like there was a big team. My ex was one of those, "the household is the woman's job" types, and did zilch after work or on weekends, except for occasional yard work.

My youngest was a real pistol, though, and I tried everything from punishment to bribes to allowance...nothing worked. She wouldn't even keep her own room cleaned up...you took your life in your hands crossing her threshold! It was a real battle of wills, as I was damned if I was going to do it FOR her!

As far as helping with the rest of the household, she was VERY creative with her arguments, and at the time, I was dumbfounded, and had no answers. She'd come up with things like, "I didn't ask to be born, and you're not supposed to have kids so they can do your housework for you." Or, "I KNOW how to wash dishes and vacuum, and I'll do them when it's MY house when I'm grown up!" At the time, she was in Jr. High school, and quite well-versed in the excuse and "logic" department. In the end, it WAS easier on my nerves to just say, "screw it!" and deal with it myself. As adults, though, they do a fine job of running their own households, so who's to say who was "right" in that long-running battle...???

Voted up, interesting and useful....it might work on some kids... ;-)

Roxanne Lewis (author) from Washington on July 22, 2012:

Jenna, you are awesome! That was a great gift you gave them :)

Jenna Pope from Southern California on July 22, 2012:

Awesome thoughts! My kids had chores, and though it would have been easier to do the work myself, chores taught my kids responsibility. Now, as adults, they are all good workers. Voted up.

Roxanne Lewis (author) from Washington on July 22, 2012:

Thank you ishwaryaa22! Your mom empowered and included you wich is a huge gift for later in life, You were very lucky!

Dr Pooja on July 22, 2012:

As kids,I and my brother were assigned to do dusting while Mom prepared lunch on returning back from school.My Mom was cleanlines freak and this trait has passed onto both of us.We still enjoy doing it .No complains!

Kathy Sima from Ontario, Canada on July 22, 2012: