The Value of Involving Kids in Family Chores

Kids and Chores - Washing Dishes

Doing Family Chores Makes Kids Feel Included

by Amy Egan

I wish I’d realized earlier in my parenting career, the nearly essential and profoundly positive influence   family/household chores have upon a child or teen.  My children were 7 and 3 when the information came to me but had I known all along, well, you know how we always “wish we knew then what we know now”!

If you aren’t having your children contribute to the family by helping out around the house, let me guess why.

  • You feel that school is their family responsibility
  • They are busy and you don’t want to overload them
  • They are too young  to do anything
  • You have enough trouble getting them to do other things and don’t want to add more nagging to your list
  • You can do everything better

I am betting one or more of these strikes a cord if your kids do little or no chores.  For those parents not expecting the help, let’s talk next about the value of family contributions.  Doing chores:

  • helps satisfy the basic human need to be needed
  • teaches a child that they are an important piece of the family unit
  • promotes self-discipline
  • discourages a sense of entitlement
  • tends to lead to higher self-esteem

Whether your kids are busy with school, outside activities, you don’t want the hassle of trying to get them to follow through with them or you are a perfectionist about your house, it is good to know that by not having them do their fair share, you are actually doing them a great disservice.  Why rob them of this important long-term payoff?

If they are busy, remember that  5-15 minutes a day is doable for just about anyone.  If they are young, do the chores with them and make it fun; this creates  good energy and feelings around them.  Should you be a perfectionist, remember that it is okay to expect a certain level of competence and that maybe you can give them chores you don’t have high expectations about. And if you are nagging them to get other things done (getting out of that habit is the topic for another article!), try allowing them to do the things they want to do, once the chores are complete.  A good way of phrasing this is, “you are free to watch TV, once your chores are complete.” If they become resistant, DO NOT argue or defend yourself. Simply busy yourself and continue to repeat, “you are welcome to watch TV once your chores are complete”.  (If you have trouble not arguing with your child or teen, call me! I can help you to fix that pronto and your relationship will dramatically improve!)

Another nice idea when it comes to chores, is allowing kids to have some say in the matter. You might make a list of all the age appropriate jobs you are willing to give up and let them choose a certain number. You can let them switch weekly or monthly or do trades with siblings.  Another fun idea is to allow them to do some of your chores for money. (Theirs should be done without pay-simply as their family contribution.)

Help your kids to feel good about themselves and be ready to succeed in the big world one day. Have them do family chores!

Amy Egan - Ask Amy Column - North Texas KidsAmy Egan is a parenting consultant and life coach. She coaches privately, loves to speak to parent organizations and hosts several weekly life coaching groups for women and moms. If you are interested in private or group coaching contact Amy at or Like her parenting page on Facebook Amy Egan – Texas Parenting.


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