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Chores are often thought of as tiring and tedious. They are seen as the duties one must complete before doing something that’s actually fun, relaxing on the couch, or getting privileges or an allowance.
It’s not that chores aren’t good for kids. Research has found that giving children chores helps set them up for success in life. Using data collected over 25 years, Marty Rossman from the University of Mississippi found that children who had done chores since the age of 3 or 4 were more likely to be well-adjusted, have better relationships with friends and family, and be more successful in their careers.
Still, thinking of tasks as “chores” can take the fun out of them. Do your chores! Did you do your chores yet? I expect you to do your chores! It sounds so negative, like a punishment akin to eating Brussels sprouts or getting a shot at the doctor.
Thinking about chores as “meaningful roles” or “special jobs” helps put the natural joy back into them. Young kids tend to love jobs. While kids can learn to do tasks for themselves, such as clear their plates or get dressed, it’s also important for them to do jobs that help a collective. Children are naturally motivated by helping family members, friends, or even strangers. They love using their power and expertise in unique ways for the good of others.
Oh, and if you choose to track their special jobs, why not get them a reward chart instead of a chore chart? Who doesn’t love to be rewarded!?
Kids love being of service to others.
Kids like to help out and help others. They could have the “job” of wiping off wet slides at the park so other kids can use them. They could be in charge of writing and coloring get well cards for friends who are sick. To help the family, kids could match the family’s socks or put away the silverware (both of which help with pre-math sorting skills).
-Erin Leyba LCSW, Ph.D., Psychology Today