At a glance
It may feel easier to do all the chores yourself, but your child benefits from doing them.
You can choose tasks that play to your child’s strengths.
Doing chores can build a sense of responsibility and belonging.
Household chores need to get done. If you have a child who learns and thinks differently, it can sometimes feel easier just to take care of all the chores by yourself.
But asking your child to pitch in gives you a break—and it actually benefits them. A child who does chores will often feel an important sense of responsibility and belonging.
Here are some other key ways that giving your child housework can help them.
Chores can boost your child’s confidence.
It might surprise you, but loading the dishwasher or picking up toys can actually improve your child’s confidence and self-esteem. Kids like to be doers. They want to participate. Learning to do household chores shows your child that, while school can feel like a struggle, other tasks can be easily mastered and completed.
Chores that involve some level of responsibility, like caring for younger siblings or pets, can also instill this idea of capability. That’s the “I can do that on my own” feeling.
Remember to praise your child when chores are completed. Positive feedback means you’re recognizing your child’s hard work and effort. And this in turn means a feel-good boost in confidence.
Chores can help your child with organization.
Having weak organizational skills can be frustrating for kids, especially at school. But chores can help them get more organized without feeling pressured.
Setting the table for dinner, for instance, demands a lot of organization as well as attention to detail. Your child needs to put out the napkins and arrange the silverware, plates, and glasses. Kids who do this every night will figure out the most efficient way to do it.
When you start your child on a new chore, it helps to write a list of the steps or draw a picture. For the table setting example, you can map out what the table should look like.
Over time, give out more complex chores like helping you make a salad for dinner. That involves many steps: washing vegetables, peeling, chopping, and putting them into a bowl, with the lettuce at the bottom. You can even come up with a simple recipe for the dressing.
Chores can help your child figure out strategies.
If your child has trouble focusing at school, basic chores like cleaning their room on a Saturday morning may also feel like a struggle. Staying engaged with the job may be hard. And if, say, a younger sibling can clean and organize more quickly and has plenty of time left to watch cartoons, that can make your child feel inadequate and frustrated.
But there are workarounds that can help kids keep making progress. A simple, step-by-step chart breaks a big job into several small ones. That can help them stay on task and finish each step.
- Put dirty clothes in the hamper.
- Put toys in their place.
- Straighten up books and school supplies.
- Make the bed.
You might create a playlist that your child can listen to while completing household chores. When the last song ends, so does the tidying.
When kids who struggle with focus realize that they can get things done in spite of their challenges, that feeling of success will stay with them. They can feel empowered by having discovered strategies that work for them.
It’s OK if it takes your child a bit longer to do a chore. And you may have to redo parts of it. But doling out responsibility shows kids that they have value. You can make it a more successful experience by choosing the right chores for your child and helping your child stay on top of them. And sincerely praising their effort can make your child feel more capable and confident.
Chores can help your child get better at organizing themselves.
You can adapt chores so your child can thrive at doing them.
It’s important to praise your child for effort.
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About the author
About the author
Erica Patino is an online writer and editor who specializes in health and wellness content.
Molly Algermissen, PhD is an associate professor of medical psychology at Columbia University Medical Center and clinical director of PROMISE.