Should children do household chores?
Posted by iChild, September 26, 2018 2:50 PM
I recently watched an episode of "Supernanny" on television, where the presenter, Jo Frost, was having a conversation with some parents about whether children should be expected to do household chores. So I wanted to share my experiences.
Without meaning to sound like a slave driver, I believe that children should be encouraged to help in the household.
My youngest son loved to clean my kitchen sink. This started one day when he was bored and I was pottering in the kitchen. I pulled up a chair so he could reach the sink and put some water in for him; he began playing with some plastic toys and we discussed whether he thought they would sink or swim. Later when I emptied the water to clean the sink, he asked if he could do it for me. I squirted the cream cleaner around and showed him how to rub it in and rinse away when finished. He enjoyed this new activity so much that he asked if he could clean the sink nearly every day ( I swear I had the cleanest sink in the country!). It didn’t end there as far as Adam was concerned. He then started to clean his bedroom, and when I say clean, I mean that he removed everything except his bed and wardrobe and set to work. He even used an old toothbrush to clean his dragon ornaments. This has become a bit of a joke in our family, as now that he is in his mid-twenties, he has gone through more vacuum cleaners than we can count!
My older children were asked to wash the dishes from around the age of 10. They did this on a rota basis; one would wash the breakfast things and the other two would wash up after lunch and teatime. They did this without complaining too much, so when they were a bit older we asked them to dust, polish and vacuum their bedrooms at the weekend - which weren’t done to the same standard as Adam did his!
I also think that younger children can be encouraged to do their ‘bit’ as they often like to help out and it gives them a sense of achievement when they are praised for it. Simple tasks such as sorting socks into pairs can help with colour matching, so it can be educational, too.
I wouldn’t recommend that parents pay their children for doing household chores, as this could result in them wanting to help for the wrong reasons. Far better to give verbal praise in my experience. I once overheard my step-son telling a friend that I had insisted he scrub the whole house after I reminded him that he hadn’t dusted his room - so don’t expect gratitude either!
As a childminder, one of the older children loved to help me by putting the little ones' shoes on for them and helped with doing up coats. This was something that I never asked her to do, the children instigated it for themselves.
I’m not suggesting that we go back to Victorian times and send children up chimneys! But getting them to help with simple household chores must be a good idea, surely?
When I was growing up , my mum suggested that my two sisters and I should start washing up after our meals. When we complained, she said that we could just wash our own dishes - so we literally carried a plate, knife and fork from the dining room into the kitchen and ran them under the tap. She didn't mention washing up again!
I recently had a conversation with my sister about this subject. She said that if she had her time again when her children were growing up, she would do things differently and get them to do a few household chores.
After all, being used to simple household chores can only stand children in good stead for later life!
(You can read her blog on which this longer article is based, here)