Every parent wants their child to be happy and to be successful. And there’s one thing you can do to set them on the right path. But it’s maybe something you didn’t expect (and that they might not like!)
According to studies if your child does chores they are more likely to be successful in life. They are also more likely to have better mental health.
You get help with the housework, your child is set on their way to win at life. Quick – hand them the mop!
The science behind it all
The science behind why doing chores can lead to a happy child and success later in life comes from a Harvard study, which is the longest running longitudinal study in history, spanning from 1938 to the present day.
In the study scientists identified two key things that children need in order to be happy and successful. The first is love. The second, perhaps surprisingly, is work ethic.
And the study found that the best way to introduce and reinforce the idea of a strong work ethic in kids is to give them chores to do from a early age.
Teaching them that the family is a team
The landmark study which spanned decades found that those who were made to do chores as a child grew up to be more independent.
They were also more able to work collaboratively in groups and could understand that pitching in to do work, even if it was unpleasant, gave kids a ‘can-do’ attitude, which fuelled success in the workplace when they were adults.
Recognising what needs doing and getting stuck into it
Everyone knows that chores are boring and never ending. As soon as you’ve completed them there is always another chore to do or the same chore soon needs doing again.
But teaching your child to get stuck in and help teaches them the value of work and cooperation. Kids learn that they don’t complete task to get a reward but just to get things done. And that’s a pretty important lesson.
Doing chores to help out gives your child a real sense of achievement
Yes, they’re boring and yes, they’re repetitive but in a busy household chores always need to be done. And if your child pitches in and helps out then they can get a real sense of achievement. Researchers of the Harvard study concluded that:
Kids feel competent when they do their chores. Whether they’re making their bed or they’re sweeping the floor, helping out around the house gives them a sense of accomplishment.
Doing chores also helps kids feel like they’re part of the team. Pitching in and helping family members is good for them and it encourages them to be good citizens.
But they’re so busy
A recent survey revealed that just 28% of parents said they regularly asked their children to do chores.
Reasons for letting their children off the hook when it came to pitching in when it comes to the housework included that children were too busy with school and after-school activities. They felt that asking them to do chores involved too much nagging.
Parents also wanted to free their own children from the drudgery they themselves felt for having to do chores as a child.
Getting stuck into chores in the house means your child is a better team player at work
Julie Lythcott-Haims, who gave a TED talk entitled How To Raise Successful Kids – Without Over-Parenting champions the idea that it’s good for kids to do chores. She said:
When young people have been expected to roll up their sleeves and pitch in, and to ask how they can contribute to the household, it leads to a mindset of pitching in in other settings, such as the workplace.
So when should your child start helping with chores?
The Harvard study suggests that children can start helping out around the house from as early as 3 years old.
If, like us, you began laughing at this idea and thought that the only way you could make your toddler do chores was to dress them in a sleepsuit made of sponges and launch them down the hallway to mop the floor, then here’s some food for thought.
Making chores fun is the key to success
You can teach your toddlers to help out in lots of ways by making chores fun.
You can set a timer and challenge them to tidy up the toys they have been playing with in a set time like three minutes.
You can set them up at the kitchen sink and ask them to wash plastic plates and bowls. You can even present mopping the kitchen floor as a fun activity.
Give your child a mini mop, let them go free with the bubbles, pop on some music and make it a fun task to do together.
Encouraging your child to do chores from an early age
As adults we could all do with a little more help to tackle the chores and science backs up why we should get our kids involved to share the load.
Here are some suggestions for chores your child can do by age:
- Pick up toys and books and put them back in a basket or on a shelf.
- Gather up their dirty clothes and pop them in the laundry basket.
- Dust surfaces by placing old socks on their hand so you can make it into a fun game.
- Help pour food into pet bowls.
- Help water the plants.
- Help set out the table and carry plates from the table to the dishwasher or sink.
- Match and pair socks.
- Help unload the cutlery from the dishwasher.
- Wash plastic plates and cups in the sink.
- Pull up weeds in the garden and rake leaves.
- Help empty the dishwasher.
- Sort out the recycling.
- Learn how to clean the kitchen and bathroom surfaces with a dishcloth.
- Sweep the floor.
- Mop the floors.
- Vacuum the carpets.
- Walk the dog.
- Take out the rubbish.
12 years +
- Wash windows.
- Help with the laundry.
- Wash the car.
- Tidy out cupboards.
- Iron clothes.
- Make meals/bake treats.
Family life is busy and when everyone helps out that little bit it can make a big difference.
The good news is that if you make your child do a few chores, it not only helps the household run a little more smoothly but you are also helping your child learn life skills that can stand them in good stead as they grow older and move out of the family home.