Parents walk a fine line when it comes to giving children more responsibility. On the one hand, it's our job to prepare our kids for life in the best ways possible. On the other hand, you want to let kids be kids and enjoy their freedom while they can.
"Chores" sounds like such a negative word, when in reality, they should be seen as tasks or responsibilities. Child development expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa also says that weekly and daily tasks give kids the independence that they crave while instilling important life skills.
Your Child Should Be Doing Their Own Laundry By The Time They're 8
Despite our kid's busy schedules, Dr. Gilboa says that having regular chores is the best way for kids to be "problem solvers of good character." One of those major chore milestones is doing their own laundry.
By age 8, a child should have enough skills and foresight to know when, and how, to do their own laundry.
It Might Be Shocking, But It's True
This might come as a shock to some parents, but if your 8-year-old can do their own laundry, then they're probably better off than most freshman college students.
Doing their own laundry is just the tip of the iceberg.
In Fact, 8-Year-Olds Should Be Doing Much More Than Just Laundry
Not only should 8-year-olds know how to do their own laundry, but they should also know how to mow the lawn, shovel snow, change their bedsheets, and make their own lunch.
These skills are going to turn into good habits.
They Should Be Learning About Chores Through Childhood
This is all on top of the responsibilities they should have learned as a toddler, preschooler, and as an elementary kid.
If you're wondering what those skills are, Dr. Gilboa actually made a "chore milestone" list.
There Is A Whole List Of "Chore Milestones"
Dr. Gilboa says that the best way to impart responsibility on children is to start them young. Experts say that kids should have a chores list as young as 18 months old.
Your toddler might not be washing the dishes or mowing the lawn. but they can have independent tasks.
There Are Some Simple Examples
For example, your kid doesn't go straight to doing their own laundry. As a toddler, they should be putting their clothes in the hamper.
By preschool, they should be helping you fold the laundry. Then by age 8, they can learn to do the entire process by themselves.
Not Everyone Agrees With The Experts
Not everyone agrees that their children should be doing more work around the house.
A study by Braun Research showed that 82% of American parents said they had regular chores and tasks as kids, but that only 28% of those parents have chores assigned for their own kids.
Chores Aren't Always Practical For Parents
Many parents also spoke out that while having their kids do the chores sounds easy enough, but in reality, the parent can do them faster and more properly compared to their kids.
Parents already have such limited time, sometimes it is just faster for them to do whatever it is themselves.
Remember That Chores Will Help Them In The Long Run
It's understandable that in order to save time and for peace of mind, the parent might just do the chore themselves.
But chores help instill responsibility in children and it can make them feel proud of their accomplishments.
It Isn't About Whether Or Not They're Good At Their Chores Right Away
Giving them responsibilities and teaching them small life lessons means that your children won't be sent off into the world completely helpless.
Don't worry if they do a terrible job at the task or if they complain. Stay strong, be patient, and remember that in the end, it's all to benefit them.
There Are Some Easy Ways You Can Encourage Your Kids To Participate In Chores
A great way to encourage your kids to do chores is to make it family time and do them together. Having you doing it with them will make it seem more tolerable.
They're not going to know how to do chores right away, so they're going to need your guidance and supervision.
Establish Routines For Your Chores
It will be easy to make chores into habits if you do them around the same time of day on the same days of the week. For example, if you have your kids do their chores right when they get home before their after-school snack, that will become a habit.
If you have older children, you can sit them down and talk about how to divide up the chores throughout the week and between the family. Make sure that you don't demand anything, but be matter-of-fact about it. It's Monday, so that means it's laundry night.
Keep Their Chores Reasonable And Manageable
Kids will be more likely to repeat chores if they are short and manageable for them. They're less likely to commit to marathon cleaning. Your goal should be a home that is tidy and liveable, not a home that looks like a magazine showroom.
Try setting a timer for 15 minutes to start when they are working on a chore, and then when the timer is up, move on to something else.
Make Chores Fun Time
Doing little things will help make chores feel more fun than they might be. Put on some music you know they like to get everyone in the grove. Let your kids use tools or do chores that they kind of enjoy doing.
If you're light-hearted and appear to be enjoying doing chores, your kids will be, too.
Give Them Positive Feedback
A little bit of positive feedback from you is going to go a long way. Kids want to make their parents happy, so if you point out how great something looks after they clean it, or what a good job they did doing something, they're going to feel a sense of accomplishment.
This little thing will be a big thing in creating those routines for chores.