Great news for parents—researchers say that there are huge benefits of chores, as they relate to your children. (And, no, it’s not just the fact that the lawn is finally mowed.) Here, eight reasons to assign them out, plus a list of age-appropriate chores whether your kid is two or 10.
The Benefits of Chores: 8 Reasons You Should Assign Them to Your Kids Now
1. Your Child Might Become More Successful
When Dr. Marty Rossmann from the University of Minnesota analyzed data from a long-term study following 84 children throughout four periods of their lives, she found that those who did chores when they were younger grew up to be more successful both academically and in their early careers. That’s partly because the sense of responsibility that your little munchkin feels about unloading the dishwasher will stay with her throughout her life. But here’s the catch: The best results were seen when kids started doing household chores at three or four years old. If they began helping out when they were older (like 15 or 16) then the results “backfired,” and participants did not enjoy the same levels of success. Start by tasking your toddler to put away their toys then work up to bigger chores like raking the yard as they grow older. (But jumping in leaf piles should be enjoyed at any age).
2. They’ll Be Happier As Adults
It’s hard to believe that giving children chores will make them happier, but according to one longitudinal Harvard University study, it just might. Researchers analyzed 456 participants and discovered that the willingness and capacity to work in childhood (by having a part-time job or doing household chores, for example) was a better predictor of mental health in adulthood than multiple other factors including social class and family issues. Try to keep that in mind when you can still hear your teen moaning over the sound of the vacuum cleaner.
3. They’ll Learn How To Manage Time
If your kid has a lot of homework to do or a pre-arranged sleepover to go to, it can be tempting to give them a free pass on their chores. But former dean of freshmen and undergraduate advising at Stanford University Julie Lythcott-Haims advises against it. “Real life is going to require them to do all of these things,” she says. “When they’re at a job, there might be times that they have to work late, but they’ll still have to go grocery shopping and do the dishes.” No word yet on if doing chores will lead to that Ivy League scholarship though.
4. They’ll Experience A Surge In Brain Development
Yes, putting away the groceries or weeding in the garden are technically considered chores, but they’re also the perfect segue into major learning leaps that are triggered by movement-based activities, says Sally Goddard Blythe in The Well-Balanced Child. Think of it this way: Childhood is when the functional anatomy of your brain is still actively growing and adapting, but hands-on experiences, especially ones rooted in physical activity that requires reasoning, are a critical part of that growth. An example: If your child is setting the table, they’re moving and laying out plates, silverware and more. But they’re also applying real-life analytical and math skills as they replicate each place setting, count utensils for the number of the people at the table, etc. This paves the way for success in other arenas, including reading and writing.
5. They’ll Have Better Relationships
Dr. Rossmann also found that kids who began helping out around the house at a young age were more likely to have good relationships with family and friends when they got older. This is probably because household tasks teach children about the importance of contributing to their families and working together, which translates into a better sense of empathy as adults. Plus, as any married person can attest, being a helper, cleaner and sock-putter-away-er just might make you a more desirable partner.
6. They’ll Be Better At Managing Money
Knowing that you can’t play with your friends or watch TV until you’ve done your chores teaches kids about discipline and self-control, which in turn could lead to more financial know-how. That’s according to a Duke University study that followed 1,000 children in New Zealand from birth to age 32 and found that those with lower self-control were more likely to have worse money management skills. (As for tying chores to an allowance, you may want to steer clear, per The Atlantic, since that can send a counterproductive message about family and community responsibility.)
7. They’ll Appreciate The Perks Of Organization
A happy home is an organized home. This we know. But kids are still learning the value of picking up after themselves and taking care of the belongings they hold near and dear. Chores—say, folding and putting away their own laundry or rotating who’s on for dish duty—are the perfect jumping off point to help with establishing a routine and promoting a clutter-free environment.
8. They’ll Learn Valuable Skills
We’re not just talking about the obvious stuff like knowing how to mop the floor or mow the lawn. Think: Getting to see chemistry in action by helping to cook dinner or learning about biology by lending a hand in the garden. Then there are all those other important skills like patience, persistence, teamwork and work ethic. Bring on the chore chart.
Age-appropriate Chores For Kids Ages 2 To 12:
Chores: Ages 2 And 3
- Pick up toys and books
- Help feed any pets
- Put laundry in the hamper in their room
Chores: Ages 4 And 5
- Set and help clear the table
- Help put away groceries
- Dust the shelves (you can use a sock)
Chores: Ages 6 To 8
- Take out the trash
- Help vacuum and mop floors
- Fold and put away laundry
Chores: Ages 9 To 12
- Wash dishes and load the dishwasher
- Clean the bathroom
- Operate the washer and dryer for laundry
- Help with simple meal prep