Families that work together and share responsibilities raise children who understand the value of work, said a University of Missouri human development specialist.

“Giving children jobs around the home helps parents and teaches children they are important cogs in the household wheel,” said Kris Jenkins. “Chores help children learn to take pride in their work and gain self-respect.”

Chores should have no gender, Jenkins said. Both boys and girls should learn to take out the garbage, mow the lawn, make beds and help with preparing meals. “In a world where both parents often work outside the home, boys and girls need to learn the same life skills.”

Toddlers like to mimic their parents, providing an opportunity to teach kids good habits such as picking up toys, throwing away trash and cleaning up. Young children feel grown-up and important when they can help. They can carry groceries, get items out of lower cabinets, set the table and put away clothes. “Their work won’t always be perfect, but the key is to not discourage them just because they don’t work as quickly or as well as you do,” Jenkins said. “Give them time and don’t redo their work.”

As children get older, they can take on more chores with less supervision. If accustomed to household chores, they will more readily understand and accept the fact that all family members have to do their part.

Jenkins said parents can assign chores fairly using these methods:

  • Let each child choose one big job and one small job, and do it for a month.
  • Try a chore wheel — kids spin to see what jobs they have each week.
  • Give each child one room to keep tidy.

She also offered tips to ensure chores are completed:

  • Don’t nag. Try encouragement: “Dad could use some help. Let’s both do our part.”
  • Set a specific deadline for completing a chore, as kids have a poor sense of timeliness.

For more parenting information from MU Extension, read here.

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