Getting children to do household chores - Part 1
In today’s scenario, where it has become the need of the hour for both the partners to be working to run a family and life has become so busy that one is struggling to find time for oneself and for the dear ones, statistics and studies show that family conflicts have been on a rise.
There are numerous issues that cause arguments in families, including everything from quarrels over whose turn it is to do the dishes to children failing to live up to their parents’ expectations. Whose responsibility it is to do the housework can be a particular cause of tension and resentment in couples as well as families.
One survey even suggests the sharing of household chores is one of the highest-ranking issues linked with a successful marriage. Another aspect of this is with the rise of domestic help in households and children being occupied with extra-curricular activities or a screen, parents no longer assign chores to their kids.
Children rarely pick up after themselves, leaving the mess to be cleaned up by their house help or parent. They are hardly given a chance to feel that they are a part of the household and hence fail to understand the needs and difficulties of others. As a result of this what happens is the art or skill of empathizing with others does not develop and as they grow to become adults, they forget to take responsibility for their actions and behaviors and are not able to see anything beyond themselves. We also underestimate a child’s ability to take on such tasks. By denying them the opportunity to contribute at home, we run the risk of fostering self-indulgence.
Research has shown us that adults who have done chores as children are more likely to be well adjusted, have better relationships with their friends and family and be more successful in their careers. Chores teach young children to be respectful and responsible. It instills maturity and develops their self-esteem and confidence. They learn to work as part of a family unit. Chores provide children with essential life skills that will be applied throughout their lives.
So, how can we work towards raising responsible, independent adults?
* Start young. Even children as young as preschoolers can be given chores. Make it their responsibility to put away their toys after they have finished playing with them. Schedule a tidy up time during the course of the day. Make a game out of it or sing a song to make it fun for them. They can also put their dishes back in the kitchen after a meal. Or wipe the table with a cloth in case of spills. They can put their shoes in the right place when they take them off. Teaching them to pick up after themselves demonstrates accountability for their actions.
* As they get older, let them continue to clean up after they eat. Chores can now include laying out their school uniform for the next day, putting away books and school bags when they come home from school. But, they also need to learn to adjust towards the larger family unit. Laying the table for dinner time or clearing the dishes at the end of the meal are some examples. Siblings can take turns to do the chores.
To be continued....
(The author is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Learning Arena, an e-learning company)