Do you do everything for your kids? It may be time to stop. Here are 7 benefits of chores and responsibilities (with examples by age).
If it weren’t for my husband, my three-year-old would still need me to remove his pajamas and put on his shoes. Thankfully, my other half has expected much more from my son. He gave responsibilities to establish independence and out of necessity. (Three kids do that to you.)
Turns out, my child can do most of what we ask him to do. Sure, watching him apply toothpaste and brush his teeth is ten times slower than if I had just stepped in, but giving him more responsibilities has been instrumental in his growth.
Responsibilities can even stem from as early as infancy.
Again, I admit that I’m the one that tends to “hold back.” This was the case of my twin babies and their ability to hold their bottles. Yes, allowing them to hold their own bottles is messy and takes longer, but if I never let them hold their bottles on their own, they’ll have a difficult time acquiring this skill.
7 surprising benefits of chores and responsibilities
And I learned 7 surprising reasons handing our kids more responsibilities benefits everyone. That we need to take a step back, no matter how much we feel inclined to coddle. For me, #5 is the biggest reason, while #7 doesn’t hurt to have, either:
1. Kids feel part of the family
Responsibilities make kids integral contributors to family life and the household. They’re not just passively receiving and waiting for things to happen to them. Instead, they have a sense of belonging to a family unit larger than themselves.
2. A sense of accomplishment
Each completed chore is one more thing contributing to their feeling of accomplishment. Having done something all on their own gives them pride at a job well done, where rewards are intrinsic and come from within themselves, not from external sources.
3. Lifelong skills
As adults-in-training, kids need to learn the skills they’ll need once they’re grown.
After all, childhood is the perfect place to “practice” and make mistakes. That way, come adulthood—when the stakes are much higher—they’ve already experienced and learned these necessities. The more responsibilities they bear now, the more self-efficient they’ll be as adults.
Kids thrive on predictability. They’re less likely to whine and complain when these responsibilities happen all the time. Routines also feel reassuring—the familiarity of chores actually provides the structure and “sameness” that help calm anxieties and worries.
5. Kids see themselves as trustworthy
Kids will meet our expectations—and that’s whether we set them high or low. Entrusting them with carrying out responsibilities, especially those a notch above their current level, makes them feel trusted and reliable.
They’re less likely to sever the trust we have of them when we are more than willing to give it to them.
6. No entitlement
One of the benefits of chores is reminding kids that some things don’t come easily, or at their every whim. Everyone has to earn what we want. Responsibilities also show that plenty of good things happen over time, or by chipping away at it with consistent action.
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7. Makes our lives easier
The more kids help out around the house, the easier the household runs. Sometimes it’s necessary, as when the older child has to learn to use the potty on his own so that mom can feed the baby. Less picking up after kids means more efficient use of our time.
Now that you know its importance, what are some responsibilities kids can do?
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- Put toys away: What better way to transition to bedtime than to encourage putting toys away? At this age, putting toys back into their tubs and boxes can be a game in itself, so take advantage!
- Dust with a rag: Recently my husband had our son clean every table in the house as part of their “game.” My husband would spray the table and he would quickly wipe with a rag.
- Place clothes in the hamper: Have your child put his clothes into the hamper so he knows where his dirty clothes go. He can also load wet clothes into the dryer.
- Change the bed sheets: Your preschooler will enjoy removing the sheets when it’s time to take them off. Ask him to place the dirty ones in a hamper as well.
- Sweep: Using a child-sized broom and duster, your child can learn to sweep the floor. Here’s a trick: using painter’s tape, mark a square on the floor and have your child sweep all the dust into that square.
- Water plants: Using a child-sized watering can, guide your child to water the plants around the house. Don’t fill the water all the way, and help him with the first few tries.
- Wash the dishes: Have your child step on a stool to wash non-breakable dishes. Show him how to squeeze soap on a sponge and wash the dishes. Then he can place them on a drying rack. Similarly, have him put his dishes in the dishwasher.
- Hang his clothes: Your older child can hang his shirts and pants on hangers after a load of laundry. He might be too tall to hook the hanger back in the closet, but he can help make sure all the clothes are hung.
- Set the table: Now that your child knows which dishes everyone uses, his responsibility can be to set the table. Start with non-breakables like plastic plates then work up to regular plates and utensils.
Get more tips:
- The Difference between Rules and Responsibilities
- How to Get Your Kids to Clean Up After Themselves
- Teach Your Child the Value of a Job Well Done
- 6 Not-So-Obvious Reasons You Can’t Keep Up with Cleaning Your Home
- What to Do When Your Child Says No to Everything
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