Young Children and Chores
Show me a child who has never had any responsibility in sharing the chores in a household and I will show you a child who:
- doesn’t realize she is needed and a vital part of the family community
- cannot have full respect for residing adults and what they are managing
- is not building confidence and self-worth from the inside-out and seeing what her
- part means in the world around her lives without feedback as a community member
- does not feel part ownership in the household and its state of being
- does not feel an equality in the family membership
- tends to be more self-centered rather than having mutual respect
- does not develop a realistic understanding of family life
- is not privy to the feeling of cooperation and its rewards
- may not be able to easily and readily assume responsible roles in other situations
- continues thinking the world revolves only around her
What age would be ideal to introduce children to chores?
My children, now 36 and 31, both knew how to fold small squares of clean laundry such as wash cloths by the age of 18 months. They LOVED helping because we did it together as a fun game, singing and laughing. By the age of 2 years, each graduated to folding larger squares and knew where to put their own clean clothes away in their drawers. Picking up toys, helping to carry small items in from the car after grocery shopping, helping to carry mail from the mailbox, feeding the pets, putting away silverware and many more small tasks added to the confidence-building activities in the family community. Both grown children are extremely responsible today and know their worth. They both contribute to the greater society, just as they contributed to the family.
Charts with stamps children can do themselves or stickers are great ways for children to have visual feedback and track their own success. Of course, verbal acknowledgment from caring adults goes a lonnnnggggggg way for them, too.
Patience: Chores are a Training Ground
It is true that sometimes it would be easier to just do the chores yourself so you don’t have to re-do them after your child. However, the investment made gives a tenfold return in terms of future payoffs when children have chores to help them build confidence. And, yes, they will complain and not want to do them at times. Patience! Chores are a training ground for children. They don’t know what’s best for them. The caring adult has the role of knowing that and bringing about experiences to help them learn what is best not only in the short term, but in long term planning for a strong sense of a confident self concept.
If children knew what would be best for them, they could run the show. Use your imagination and you can see just how that would look!