“Aw Mom, do I have to??” Should Children Have Chores?

How many times have you heard this or something similar when you ask or tell your father_sonchildren to do a chore around the house? Chances are it has been often. Children are pros at procrastination, excuses, resistance and refusal when it comes to chores. However, if parents can find a way to make chores such as vacuuming appear fun, then children may be more willing to partake in them. For example, if you’ve recently bought a brand new cleaning appliance such as bissell wet dry vacs – bissell, then you could ‘allow’ your child to have a go with the new vacuum, making chores seem like a privilege rather than a burden.

Why is it like pulling teeth to get kids to do chores? Part of the explanation has to do with the nature of who kids are. Doing chores willingly requires mature judgment and awareness of others’ perspectives and needs. Children are not born with these traits; they develop gradually as children grow and mature. Part of your job as parents is to socialize your children by helping them to develop these qualities. Therefore, it should not be a surprise that they resist helping at home.

You may ask yourself, “Is it Worth the Struggle?” Insisting that chores be completed can feel like a never-ending battle; constantly reminding, nagging, or imposing consequences just to get your kids to follow through. It can become easier in the short run to do the jobs yourself or let them slide.

Parents may be reluctant to engage in continuous struggles for fear of damaging their relationship with their children. Or they may feel guilty asking their children to help; after all, children are so busy with all the other demands on them from school, peers and extra-curricular activities that you may be reluctant to add to the pressures.

The Benefits of Chores: Even though it is more difficult at the time to persist in having children do chores, research indicates that those children who do have a list of chores have:

  • Higher self-esteem
  • are more responsible
  • are better able to deal with frustration and delay gratification, all of which contribute to greater success in school and beyond.

Ask your children for their input. Children are more cooperative when they have a say. Many parents hold a family meeting to discuss chores and when and how they will be starting, revising, or re-instating them. Such times together can build morale, improve relationships, and facilitate creative problem solving.

  • Be convinced of the importance of chores. If you firmly believe in their value, you will communicate this message to your children and you will be less likely to give in to their delay tactics or resistance.
  • Consider how you look at your “chores” – you are your children’s most important role model.
  • Make chores a regular part of the family routine – children as young as 3 can benefit.
  • Decide if allowance will be given for the completion of chores.

Children may not thank you in the short term for giving them chores. This is a case where the goal is not necessarily to make your children happy; rather it is to teach them life skills and a sense of responsibility that will last a lifetime.


(Information from The Center for Parenting and Education)

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