Do your children have regular chores to do in the home? Ours definitely do. My husband Mark, and I, have 5 children born in 1982, 1985, 1991, 1995, 1998.. All of our children have had specific chores to do since they were very small and we have added chores that are appropriate to their ages to their list until they have moved out and are on their own.
We have had very good results with having our children be responsible for household and yard work. Our three oldest are now the kind of people who see something that needs to be done and do it, without being asked or directed. Our oldest child is now training his own children to work and to be helpful in the home.
The chores that children and young people are required to do will help them in many areas of life later on. Studies have shown that adults who had regular chores at home make better employees and better leaders. The Bible verse of Proverbs 22:6 that says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” does not only apply to the spiritual life of the child. Any good way you train your child will remain with the child. As for myself, I have some good habits now that I remember my Mother training me in. Though I didn’t actually practice them faithfully until I was in my 30′s, those good habits like hanging up my clothes immediately when I change, putting away my shoes, washing my face and brushing my hair first thing in the morning, have all remained with me.
Here are a few of the benefits of assigning chores to your children early in life:
1. Doing chores, children learn how to co-operate and work along side others. Children doing chores with siblings or other family members learn how to work as a team, which is a very important concept in business. They also learn how to get along, share and listen to the ideas of others.
2. When chores have to be done before a child can play or do other activities, the child learns time-management. They also learn how to delay gratification which is another skill that many adults lack.
3. When children work together with others to complete a chore, they learn responsibility. If everyone doesn’t do their part, the chore is not complete and a child can learn through this that his or her contributions are important. Boys especially need this assurance that they are contributing to the welfare of the family through their chores and work in the home.
4. Children learn self-sufficiency through completing chores and tasks that are assigned to them. What seems like an easy task to an adult may take a lot of thinking and experimenting for a child to figure out. But the process of figuring it out is necessary to develop skills the child need to be self-sufficient. Parents must develop their own skills of offering enough help to encourage but not so much as to do the whole chore themselves.
5. One of the most important things children learn by doing chores is care for others. Parents can teach their children to nurture and show care for siblings and family members by having them do things like; folding and putting away siblings clothing, helping with a sibling’s homework or helping to clean a sibling’s room, making beds, etc. Human beings are naturally selfish so helping others is a skill that must be learned and fine-tuned.
Not all chores are appropriate for children of all ages. Obviously, you would not assign dish-washing to a 12 month old. Mothers who have had a few children learn pretty quickly what a child of any age is capable of, but often we sell our children’s abilities short. Small children can do many things that, while they may not be done perfectly, the mere act of doing them builds confidence and character in the child. Older children can often be trusted to do difficult chores well. We each know our own children and their capabilities, but sometimes we have to step out and allow them to try things that we consider hard or complicated.
Small children have a helpful and sweet nature that can be used by Mothers to begin the process of training. Here are a few things that a 12-18 month old can do, and can continue on with these things up til about 3 years when more tasks can be added.
Go and get items as directed
Fold wash cloths and dish towels
Put items in a drawer with help
Set his own place for meals
Pick up and put away toys with help
A child this age can be encouraged to voice his own prayers
For the 3 to 5 year old, many possibilities are opened up for service to family members. This is also a good age for beginning to teach the child to take care of many of his own personal needs. Include the previous tasks for the 18 month to 3 year old also.
Fold up and put away more complicated clothing
Take dishes to sink after meals
Clean up small messes from floor
Feed and water pets
Take out small bags of trash
Make bed with help
Stack up books and magazines
At the ages of 5 to 7 years a child really begins to be a help to the family and begins to see that he is indispensible to the harmony and happiness of the family’s routine. This is the time when the child learns most of what it takes to run a household. Include the previous tasks listed.
Make bed by himself
Change sheets on his bed and for others
Do his own personal care routine unsupervised
Sort laundry, load laundry with some supervision
Fold towels and some clothing
Sweep and mop small areas
Hang shirts on hangers
Make rolls and biscuits from dough
Pick up and straighten
Set out plants in the garden
Harvest from garden
Bring in wood
Labeling food for freezer or canning jars
Some sewing and embroidery
Between the ages of 8 and 12 years a child is capable of taking on many more responsibilities. This is the age when boys begin to feel protective over their Mothers and sisters, if it has been instilled into them, and when they are most likely to want to be outside instead of inside. Provide opportunity for your sons to have outside chores, however, do not neglect the inside chores.
Begin to allow a few choices to your daughters about meal planning, table settings and family games.
Sweep house and porch
Run vaccum in any room
Preparing garden for planting
Hoe and rake garden
Help prepare daily meals
Make bread with some supervision
Hang all laundry on line
Fold all clothing articles
Make a simple lunch unsupervised
Make cookies, cakes, muffins and simple desserts
Iron on low temperatures
Serve meals and pour drinks
By the time a child is 12 years old, he is capable of doing most anything you can do in the household. With training a 12 or 13 year old child can be depended upon to run the house in the prescence of an adult for short periods of time. For instance, when Mother has a new baby by her side, the older children should be able to be relied on to help Father with the small children to the point that he can attend to his work and have trust in the older ones to take care of and protect the younger ones. This is very alien and strange to many parents today. To leave a 13 year old child in the position of caring for his or her younger siblings, even if it is in the prescence of an adult, seems careless to them.Most 13 year olds are not capable or willing to be given this responsibility. And giving this responsibility to an untrained child is foolhardy at the least. That is why training at a young age is so important.
I will brag on my children for just a moment. I know that training children early in life works. When my oldest child, who is now 28 years old with a lovely wife and two little girls of his own, was just 12 years old, I was very ill. The Dr. said “complete bed-rest for at least a week.” I sat in bed and the little ones sat with me as we read and worked on school. My oldest son did laundry, prepared lunch for me and the children, did his own school work and straightened the house and he prepared dinner before his Dad got home. What a relief for me and for my husband that this child remembered everything he had been taught and managed the house so well.
He even sewed a button on a shirt. The other children pitched in and did their chores. The household ran very smoothly. That one week showed us that children can learn difficult things, they can be taught and they can do what is required of them.
To neglect our children’s training may seem like the easy thing to do when you are a tired mommy. It may seem like it is something we can forget about when the child becomes difficult to teach or discipline becomes an every day thing. But I think we can agree that it will not be the wise thing to do. We must train up our children and provide for them this base and foundation for living a godly and Christ-Like life. We must train our children so that they can be good employees, good employers and good mothers and fathers for their own children.