Call them what you want: chores, responsibilities, rules, whatever. They are tasks that you pass onto your kids as their contributions to your household. But chores aren't just about taking the pressure off of mom and dad. They actually teach kids some important things.
"Having a chore or job around the house is a way to belong. When someone contributes, they matter. They are important. Doing chores nurtures self-esteem," says Susan Tordella, author of Raising Able: How Chores Cultivate Capable Confident Young People. "Doing chores will teach children good decision making. ... Chores help set that up because they learn self-discipline."
Are real moms actually having their kids help out? You bet! "My children, 7 and 2 help with varying 'chores,' though I don't quite bill them that way. It's just part of being in the family, everyone pitching in. At dinnertime, my oldest helps set the table and the little one follows along with cloth napkins and non-sharp utensils like spoons," says Jennifer Perillo of In Jennie's Kitchen.
So, how do you get your kids involved?
Preschoolers and even toddlers are eager to help you out with whatever you are doing. Let them! "By participating in the activities of daily life, children understand how things work. For example, dinner doesn't start by sitting at the table - it starts by shopping for ingredients, planning a meal, carving out time to prepare the meal - and it ends when the dishes and kitchen are cleaned afterward," says mom Melinda Mallari.
What chores are good for preschoolers?
As kids get a little older and more dexterious, they can take on additional responsibilities, as well as better understand why chores matter. "By knowing that a chore is that child's responsibility, the child learns that she contributes to the cleanliness and (dare I say it?) harmony of the household. A child will also learn that she is responsible for both the messes and disorganization that she makes as well as knowing that she has the power to have control over her environment by doing things when they need to be done -- and before they become monumentally large, more labor-intensive tasks," says Ellen Pober Rittberg, author of 35 Things Your Teen Won't Tell You, So I Will.
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