by Rowland P. Barrett, PhD
Director, Developmental Disabilities Unit
Unfortunately, chores are boring. After the novelty has worn off, many young children and most teenagers complain about having to complete them. It is interesting that parents who would never think of relaxing the requirements of personal hygiene, homework and school attendance will frequently allow their children to avoid household chores.
It is difficult to say why many of today's parents have loosened their grip on such a readily available and effective teaching tool. Maybe they are unaware of the relationship of chores to the development of social responsibility. Maybe they don't see chores as a means of strengthening family ties. Maybe they are unaware of the critical role social responsibility will play in their child's teenage and adult life.
Assign your children appropriate household chores beginning a very early age. It will not hurt them. In fact, a sense of social responsibility could even save a life if, for example, your teenage son or daughter chooses not to drink and drive. Do not pay your children for completing their chores. The purpose of chores is to teach children about their social responsibilities to their family and equip them in the best possible manner to meet the many social responsibilities that confront teenagers and adults. The value of chores resides in the lessons learned from accomplishing them: a sense of pride, the development of self-respect and the experience of being connected to others who depend on and value the child's contribution. Payment defeats the purpose.
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