Want Kids To Thrive As Adults? Give Them Chores

New research reveals that chores bring social, emotional and cognitive benefits for kids as they develop, but fewer kids are doing them today than in 1997.

The idea of doing chores around the house is likely to evoke a spectrum of feelings among parents and kids. In many households, doing chores may earn a child a reward, but isn’t considered to be the reward.

According to research, the skills learned through chores are amongst the most important lessons parents hope to instill in their children. From organization to educational skills such as counting, chores can provide moments of fun and togetherness while setting children up for long-term success.

With kitchen and laundry appliances often at the center of household chores, Whirlpool continues its nearly decade-long research to explore and demonstrate how acts of care like cooking, cleaning and washing can set children up for long-term success. To study this connection further, Whirlpool brand collaborated with developmental psychologist and child development expert Dr. Richard Rende.

The outcome reveals the social, emotional and cognitive benefits of chores for kids throughout developmental stages, providing an opportunity for parents to consider the positive role that chores can play in their child’s development.

The March 2020 survey data shows only 70% of parents say their children regularly do chores – down from 79% in 1997 (per an earlier study). Of the parents surveyed, 15% say it’s not important to them that their children do chores. Dr. Rende’s research suggests a shift in the framing of chores can better encourage children’s participation and help them develop into thriving adults.

“One of our missions is to shift the perceptions of household responsibilities and prove these acts of care through cooking, cleaning and washing have more power than we give them credit for,” said Chelsey Whitehead, senior brand manager for the Whirlpool brand. “Since our products are often at the center of chore activities, we wanted to explore the long-term benefits that chores offer to children. It’s clear from the data that chores mean much more than keeping a clean and organized home.”

Chores have many positive benefits, as outlined in “Chores: Why They Matter, How to Engage Children and Developmental Benefits,” which Dr. Rende will publish in the Brown University Child and Adolescent Behavior Letter in 2021.

Those benefits include:

Toddlers (2-4 years old)
Chore benefit: Toddlers have a natural tendency to help others, and research has found that this instinct can be nurtured in a home environment where toddlers can spontaneously assist with chores.

Recommended chores: Involving toddlers in activities like helping to set the dinner table or practicing counting while sorting their socks can reinforce their interest to get involved and help others. Doing so can also help develop their motor and perceptual skills.

Young children (5-8 years old)
Chore benefit: Kids who work with others to complete chores learn how to function well in a group environment. In fact, a research study found kindergartners who participate in chores show higher levels of self-competence, better peer relationships and advanced prosocial behaviors by the third grade.

Recommended chores: Asking a young child to help with folding laundry or measuring ingredients during meal preparation will teach the importance of helping others and increase cognitive skills.

Older children (9-12 years old)
Chore benefit: As older children take on more responsibilities and can perform more tasks, chores can provide platforms for natural exploration that develop STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) skills.

Recommended chores: Kids can learn fractions through meal preparation, such as cutting homemade pizzas or pies. Following a recipe can teach kids trial and error. Children can also benefit from self-directed learning like loading the washing machine and transferring clothing to the dryer on their own.

For more ideas on how to teach kids chores, check out my ebook, Chores for Kids.

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