We strive to raise well-adjusted children that have all the skill sets to succeed later in life. Chores are part of that because they help foster self-esteem and independence.
The recommended age for introducing chores is around three years old. We aren’t talking about loads of dishes, but it is a great time to teach them how to pick up their toys and put them away. It won’t be easy, but the benefits are worth it.
The Bountiful Benefits
It is hard to see the long game when it comes to introducing good habits to any kid. The uphill battle can feel burdensome, but the long-term benefits outweigh today’s frustration. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry explains,” Children who do chores may exhibit higher self-esteem, be more responsible, and be better equipped to deal with frustration, adversity, and delayed gratification. These skills can lead to greater success in school, work, and relationships.”
Every child is different. Some will jump into doing chores with glee, and others will fight you every step of the way. Regardless, the goal is worth temporary hiccups.
The primary benefits include:
- Time Management–Even as adults, we struggle with the concept of time management. It is critical to teach your little learner to prioritize and manage tasks and time.
- Organizational Skills–Child experts agree that strong organizational skills help reduce their overall stress. By teaching them how to organize their school tasks, you are helping them prepare for the future workforce.
- Responsibility–Watching out for siblings or pets are a great way for a child to learn responsibility within the family unit. It helps tremendously with self-esteem. But those tasks come later on as they mature. A great way to start with a three year old is to give them the responsibility for caring for their belongings.
Rules of the Road
Introducing chores requires setting boundaries. A parent can ask a child to pick up their toys a hundred times in one day, but unless there are consequences, there is no incentive. The same goes for setting clear and concise expectations.
The Internet is full of advice and tips, and every little bit of information counts. However, remember, your little person is unique. Not every helpful tidbit will work for you, but it helps to have a road map.
Establishing a routine goes a long way towards introducing new chores. When you make a schedule, a child understands what is expected of them in clear terms. For example, “Pick up your toys before dinner, and you can have dessert after.”
A helpful cheat for children and chores is to start out small and make it fun. Make the tasks manageable and work towards longer jobs. Coming up with catchy songs and playful games are super helpful tools.
A child then knows that unless they do their chore, then they will miss out. A reward system encourages positive behavior and makes monitoring progress more straightforward.
It is essential to stay positive throughout the process. If you get frustrated, they will, too. You are the role model, and they are looking for validation from you. Positive feedback and reinforcement are a critical part of a child’s self-esteem and independence.
Finally, you will have days that the fight is simply not worth it–and that is perfectly fine. Part of the learning process for you and your child is learning which battles are worth fighting. You are not the bad guy, and a messy room will not end the world.