Making your kids do chores could be setting them up to become more successful adults, according to a study from the University of Mississippi.
Of course, that might not convince your kids to do the dishes without complaining, but it’s worth keeping in mind if you’re wondering if the hassle of constantly reminding them to clean up is really worth it.
Marty Rossmann, a retired professor of family education, collected data over 25 years, starting in 1967, to try and determine whether asking children to help with chores starting at age 3 or 4 had any correlation to success later on in their 20s.
Of course, there’s no way to truly prove that chores cause you to be a more successful adult, but it did appear that kids who did chores throughout their childhoods learned responsibility, competence, self-reliance, and self-worth that stayed with them throughout their lives.
Kids who did chores also tended to have a better-developed sense of empathy and better relationships with friends and family, as well as more success in their careers.
However, the study also took into account a parent’s way of interacting with their child. Yelling at kids to do chores was not the way to go. Instead, success came when parents explained to their children from a young age how they were helping the family and gave them support.
When chores started at ages 3 or 4, the expectation of having to do them continued throughout the teen years.
Parents who didn’t assign their children chores to kids until they were 12 or 13 generally had a harder time getting them to participate and the long-term benefits weren’t as clear.
So it’s less about the children and more about the parenting style at the end of the day.
Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s too late to ask your kids to do chores – you just may have to do some extra work to show them why it’s part of their responsibility to the family.
Despite the benefits of chores, other research has shown that fewer parents than ever are requiring their children to do work around the house.
According to a survey by Braun Research in 2014, 82% of adults said they did chores as kids. But only 28% reported asking their own children to do them.
Of course, life is different now and kids’ schedules are more packed with extracurriculars, homework, etc. Parents said these already overwhelming schedules made them less willing to put more responsibility on their kids. (And if a child is already overwhelmed, adding more work can lead to anxiety, which leads to long-term negative effects!)
Kris Loubert, a parent educator at the Early Childhood Family Education program in Minneapolis, has examined the research and said that there’s still plenty of good reasons to involve young children in chores before they’re even school-aged.
“The responsibility learned via putting those toys away positively affects their success in young adulthood—at the university, in their careers, and in their families…Teach your kids responsibility and contribution at home early and they are likely to be successful later in life.”
While every household is different and there is more than one route to success, this research should be encouraging to any parent debating about whether or not to take on the hassle of getting their young children to start doing chores.
While sometimes it’s certainly easier to just to it yourself, the long-term benefits of getting a 3- or 4-year-old to clean up their toys might make parenting easier down the road.
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