Chores make children successful and happy

Okay, I can’t guarantee the promise of happiness, but a recent article called “Science Says Parents of Successful Kids Have These 13 Things in Common” published on Tech Insider lists housework as a factor that could lead to success. children when they are adults. They quote author Julie Lythcott-Haims (How to Raise an Adult) who praises chores because she teaches children that they “have to do life’s work to be a part of life.”

Let’s look at the benefit of chores a little deeper (and I’ll lay out my scientifically unproven theory as to why it makes kids happy, too).

1. Doing housework increases self-esteem

Self-esteem is confidence in one’s worth and abilities. Young children may not have learned to read and older children may struggle with long division or quadratic equations, but most children can learn to make the bed and sweep the floor. Are these tasks valuable? Of course they are. And it’s much easier for a child to understand the utility of a clean floor than it is to understand where algebra is going to work for them in their lives. Children who feel capable and competent have higher self-esteem. Chores are an area in which most children can develop proficiency relatively easily.

2. Doing chores makes kids feel needed.

When we wait for our children hand and foot, it gives children an incorrect estimate of their own importance. Ironically, like praising children too profusely, doing everything for children does not develop their sense of importance; rather it leaves children feeling adrift and disconnected. What children want to feel is that they are important because their family needs them. When the character Dill from To Kill a Mockingbird explains to the main character Scout why he is running away from home, Scout wonders, “What would I do if Atticus [her father] she didn’t feel the need for my presence, help and advice” (143). Scout firmly recognizes her place in her family and knows how essential it is for her to feel needed by them. Contributing to the well-being of the family by doing housework is a great way for children to feel like they are an integral part of the wheel of a peaceful family life.

3. Doing chores shares the work

In previous generations, families had many children precisely because a large workforce was needed just to keep the family farm or business running. As soon as they could walk, the children were assigned simple tasks. In this way, all the tasks of life were accomplished and families prospered. Nowadays, although more tasks are mechanized and there are fewer chores at home, people are also much busier outside the home. With parents working and children going to a schedule packed with extracurricular activities, there is very little time left for the tasks they do. And yet, “according to a 2014 Braun Research survey, 82% of adults surveyed said they had regular chores when they were young, but only 28% reported asking their children to do any (12 of July 2015) Wow Instead, imagine a home where work was shared as equally as possible among family members Children would appreciate much more what it takes to keep everyone fed and dressed in clean clothes Appreciation is related to happiness!

4. Children doing housework reduces parental stress

With only 28% of children helping regularly, parents return home after a full day of work and face a night full of homework. Just thinking about it is exhausting. Parents complain that they don’t have time to hang out with their children. But is it because your kids are watching TV or playing video games while your parents are cooking dinner? How about having the kids in the kitchen with you? One child can grate cheese while another cuts vegetables. While the children’s hands and attention are occupied, it is a good time to ask deeper questions, open questions. Task time becomes connection time, and human connection is one of the most important factors for happiness. One last hidden stress-reducing factor is that parents who aren’t doing the dishes or folding laundry after their kids have gone to bed might find time to sit next to each other and connect! Connected parents do a better job of supporting their children and making them feel safe.

5. Doing homework teaches kids at home skills they can use at school.

huh? How does doing laundry help you write a clear, well-supported essay? Well, doing laundry teaches responsibility, accountability, planning, attention to detail, and follow through (ever had a bunch of moldy clothes because you forgot to transfer them to the dryer?). Aren’t those all the skills you need to write essays? Of course! And in all kinds of school-related tasks, such as doing homework on time, returning homework, dividing homework into multiple steps, etc. Children who have learned to take on tasks as their own are the same children who are independent learners. They are also excellent team members for group work. They know that light work is done by many hands and are ready to do their part. They don’t expect anyone else, much less mom or dad, to do the work for them.

And that’s not all!!

So here are four arguments for chores to increase your children’s happiness, and one argument for chores to increase their success in school (not to mention later in life). And here’s one more argument: doing chores as kids helps teach kids about work-life balance. Life isn’t just about doing school work, practicing the piano properly, and going to soccer practice. It’s also about creating a healthy living space and cooking nutritious meals that bring the family together. They have long been considered the pillars of a happy home. Oh, and did I mention that children who participate in the kitchen have more varied and nutritious diets? And that children who share the washing and cleaning take better care of their clothes and toys? Really, the more I think about it, the longer the list gets.

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