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Children Need Chores: You Know What They Say About Idle Hands

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Children need chores to learn life long skills, responsibilities and to give them a sense of accomplishment.

Lack of responsibility is one of the key factors leading to the behavior problems children display. Spoiled, lazy children who expect their parents to do everything for them will not amount to much. When you do everything for a child and expect nothing in return, you get nothing in return.

This is not to say you expect your child to be your personal slave or that you won't do anything for them they could do for themselves, but merely you are setting up a routine pattern to teach them responsibility. Payment for chores is not the issue. They are not to do the chores as a lesson in how it goes in the working world. They are doing chores to learn what it is to take care of a responsibility which is payment earned by a lesson learned.

A child needs to learn how to do things for themselves so they can slowly learn not only the skill, but independence. If a parent does everything, the child will get the idea as an adult someone will be there to take care of them like their parents. A child needs to learn early the importance of self-reliance. As an adult, it would be a very rude awakening for them to realize no one will clean up after them, make their food, do their laundry, or any other little tasks and must quickly learn how to do all of these things or find someone who will do it for them.

My children have chores. Their chores are based on their abilities. Right now that amounts to putting away their things after making a mess, scraping out dinner plates and packing them in a dishwasher and unpacking them. Periodically, they vacuum or help their father when he washes the car [although they do this more as an excuse to get wet.] This is not cruel. I do not pay them to do these chores. They are being paid by learning a valuable skill. When they go off and live on their own I know they will be able to do that much for themselves.

As they get older, they will have more unpaid chores. They will learn that part of the responsibility of living in a home is work. They will learn by my example. No one pays me to do the rest of the work around the house. My work is often thankless, but it needs to get done whether I am sick, bored, tired or cranky. When they grow up, they will realize no one will pay them to do their own housework either.

A parent must sacrifice what they can for their children, but being a parent does not mean being a servant to that child. If you love your child, you will do what you can to prepare them for the real world.

A child as young as two can learn to do something. Your children will eventually move from one task skill to another according to their age and abilities. These are things they will need to do when they grow up anyway. Some of these chores include dusting, sweeping, setting and clearing the table, making the bed, cleaning up the mess they leave after playing, cleaning up their own bedroom, washing/drying dishes and packing them away, lawn/garden work including helping to plant flowers, cutting the lawn, raking leaves, shovelling snow or even washing the car. They don't have to do everything as their chore, just pick something they can do until they learn the skill and then if they are ready add another skill to learn.

Yes, children hate to do chores because it's not fun and they get bored easily. This is another life lesson, life is not always about fun and sometimes you have to put the fun aside to tend to your responsibilities. They have to learn the right attitude when it comes to responsibilities. It may not be their favourite thing to do, but if they look at it the right way they may discover if they do it properly, quickly and get it out of the way early it means they can get to the fun much more quickly than dragging their feet and avoiding it which only makes them more miserable.

And one cannot deny the feeling of accomplishment when a task is done. For a child, they will not only feel proud of themselves for doing something and seeing it through to the end, but the reward is now they are free to do something they want to do instead.

A good book to read is The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck. In his book he details how a life pattern of taking the easy way out leads to problems coping with reality. The lessons your child will learn with the responsibility of chores can be taken from this book.

Let's say your child really hates to do chores. You could coddle them and enable them to put it off by giving in to their tantrums or telling them it is okay to do it later, but you would have just showed them it is okay to avoid problems instead of facing them. In adult life, we get in trouble all the time because we would rather avoid doing the hard things now.

Delayed gratification is a lesson many adults have not learned, but is one your child could learn through chores. The chores will always be there until they are done. If you choose to do the chores now, as early as possible, and do it correctly, then you are free and have more time to pursue what makes you happy.

When you don't delay gratification, you try to do things you think will make you happy, but you know in the back of your mind there is an unpleasant task waiting for you which will kill the total joy you could be having from doing something fun. The longer you wait, often the task gets bigger and harder to deal with when you finally get to it. Eventually, you reach the point where the task can no longer be avoided and it is much worse to do than if you tended to it earlier when it could have been more pleasant.

Adults who have not learned that lesson have similar problems coping with reality. I highly recommend you read The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck, especially if you have children. If you have children, be kind to them and give them chores. They may not appreciate it now, but if done properly they will as adults.