Bradley Hospital Parenting Guide: Childhood ChoresPrint the entire guide (PDF, 17K)
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The assignment of household chores serves several important teaching functions regarding social responsibility. It allows the child to experience both a sense of contribution to the family and a sense of accomplishment-and, in turn, it allows a sense of pride in that accomplishment. Pride is the key ingredient in the development of self-respect, which is the foundation for good mental health and happiness in life. Moreover, contributing to the family and feeling good about doing so strengthens the child's connection to the family.
Teaching children to accept social responsibilities within their family is the very best way of preparing them to accept and satisfy the numerous social responsibilities they will encounter outside the family as they grow older and progress toward independence. When the child becomes a teenager or young adult, successful negotiation of social responsibilities outside the family is important for many reasons, including the opportunity to re-experience a sense of contribution, pride, self-respect and a strong, constructive connection to society.
Assign your children appropriate household chores beginning at 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.