The Secret Power of Chores

Kids doing chores is a serious win-win situation. Practically speaking, when your child does a household task, it takes one thing off of your parenting plate, which is fantastic. But the benefit of doing simple chores goes deeper for kids. Helping out around the house allows your child to experience feelings of mastery, build self-reliance, and learn responsibility.

That said, when life gets busy it may be hard to keep chores at the top of the to-do list. This is especially true if you get push-back from your child when you ask for help. Before you jump in and take care of everything yourself, consider these five tips and see if you can unlock some chore power in your home.

  1. Make Chores Family Focused: Part of the power of chores is teaching your child the importance of helping others. If chores include tasks that only benefit your child, such as making their bed or cleaning their room, this lesson is lost. So, make sure your child does at least one thing that helps the entire family.
  2. Let Your Child Choose: If your child is not yet in the habit of doing chores, let him or her decide on a task to take ownership of. You can make a few suggestions, but giving your child the option to select a chore will make follow-through easier.
  3. Give Cool Job Titles: Kids, like adults, love a special job title. This helps set the tone for leadership and will allow your child to embrace the responsibility of their chore. Think Mail Master, Dusting Director, and VP of Dishwashing. Older kids may roll their eyes, but at the end of the day getting creative with titles will make a difference.
  4. Don’t Give Allowance: At least not for doing chores. Research has shown that kids are actually less motivated to do chores when they’re being paid for them. So, don’t make chores a business transaction and you’ll give your child a great opportunity to learn the value of teamwork within your family.
  5. Keep Some Things Off Limits: At least at first. There is a hidden beauty to telling your child he or she is not yet ready for certain household responsibilities. Honestly, toddlers should not be doing laundry and young kids should not be washing sharp knives. That said, when tasks are categorized or presented as being at different levels, it gives your child something to work towards.

Stephanie O'Leary, Psy.D. is a Clinical Psychologist specializing in Neuropsychology, mom of two, and author of Parenting in the Real World (out January 2017). She provides parents with a no-nonsense approach to navigating the daily grind while preparing their child for the challenges they’ll face in the real world.