by Rowland P. Barrett, PhD
Director, Developmental Disabilities Unit
Chores allow children an early and sustained opportunity to experience responsibility. Independence and self-sufficiency in life are tied, ultimately, to mastery of two types of responsibility: personal and social responsibility. The process of identifying, accepting and acting to satisfy personal and social responsibility must be learned, and children learn this process when their parents accept the responsibility of teaching it to them.
Most parents experience no difficulty in creating opportunities for the development of personal responsibility in their children. Beginning with toilet training, parents usually assign tasks to their children that allow them to progress toward independence, such as washing their own faces, brushing their own teeth, dressing themselves, completing homework and attending school. For the most part, children have no difficulty acknowledging the existence of personal responsibilities and accept them readily.
Parents often experience greater difficulty in developing opportunities for their children to acquire a sense of social responsibility. Assigning household chores is a way for parents to teach children about social responsibility by employing the most fundamental and easily accessible unit of society: the family.
How Children Benefit from Chores