A chore is a routine task that needs to be done over and over and over again to provide order, safety and comfort. There is much diversity in opinion over how much and what kind of order a family or a home needs. However most of us like to eat every day after day. . .after day. . .after day. Therefore some routine tasks need to occur so that we can eat. Everyone also needs to wear clothing and some social situations require a standard of cleanliness for that clothing. Clothing must be maintained. It needs to get cleaned, perhaps repaired and we need to be able to locate it so that we can wear it. There are also personal hygiene chores which our society require. Even if you are happy and comfortable living with chaos and disorder in your home you still need the basics of food, clothing and personal hygiene for everyone’s health, comfort and safety. These three necessitate chores.
Should children do chores? I ask you do they make the mess? Are they eating the food and wearing the clothes? Yes. Yes. Yes. Obviously age and ability must be considered and frequently evaluated. I think there is exponentially more value in having children do chores than not do chores. However, I will give you some reasons for both sides of the debate.
Yes, children should do chores
Doing chores builds life skills which builds self-confidence. Doing chores gives opportunities for children to contribute to their family which is a precursor to contributing to society. Doing chores may provide an opportunity to earn personal funds.
Children should not have to do chores
They are only children and will only be children for a few short years. They should be free to play and pursue their interests during the few years that they can be carefree. They will be grown up soon enough and have many years to work. Children are too busy with sports and school to do chores. I present each of these for the sake of argument but personally think each one a lousy reason. If they are too busy to fit chores into their schedule, then they are too busy. Take the time to reevaluate priorities. Yes childhood is short and temporary. Adulthood is many decades long so get prepared.
How to get your children to do chores
Start early. Most toddlers want to be at their parent’s side and do with them whatever mom or dad is doing. Much of what mom and dad do is considered chores. Take advantage of this time when they WANT to do whatever you are doing. They don’t see this as WORK. They see it as being WITH you and being allowed to do what you do. It is a privilege. Are you grumbling and complaining about the drudgery? STOP IT. Don’t’ instill in them a negative attitude about work. Of course, some tasks are more pleasant than others, but each needs to be done and complaining doesn’t make it easier or faster.
You can converse while working together. Talk about anything. Talk about the task and why it needs to be done. Talk about cooperation and serving your family. Talk about why you are doing the task in the manner that you are doing it. You will be teaching order and processing skills. Teach problem solving skills by discussing other approaches to tasks or how a big task is broken down into many smaller tasks. You may be surprised and even entertained by their ideas and suggestions.
If children begin doing chores as toddlers, then as they grow and mature they will be accustomed to participating in making and keeping order. If everyone is doing chores, then no one feels singled out like a Cinderella. All contribute.
If you did not teach your children to do chores when they were young, then start now. Gradually add more and more chores (lifeskills) to their resume. Someday their spouses will thank you. They may even thank you.
Payment for chores also provides incentive. Encourage chores to be done early in the day whenever possible. Once our children reached age eight each one was responsible for remembering to do their chore without reminders from parents and to have the tasks completed by 5 p.m. Chores not completed by the set time still had to be done but without any pay. Other consequences such as half pay or other loss of privileges could be established. This process of mom relinquishing the reminders and the children working without them was a sometimes painful process for both. These boundaries helped fight procrastination and prepared them for future employers.
Proverbs 14:23 “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”
Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,”