Rhonda Patt

Ask the pediatrician: Kids & chores

Chores may feel like a burden to parents at first, but developing simply daily tasks helps children learn to be responsible.
Chores may feel like a burden to parents at first, but developing simply daily tasks helps children learn to be responsible. Getty Images

We have 3 children, ages 9, 6, and 2 years. I know that chores are important but I am having a difficult time following through with a plan. By the time everyone finishes homework, it is time for bed. Then I find myself doing their "chores" after the kids have gone to bed. Do you have any advice?

Helping out around the house is an important part of childhood. By completing chores, children learn about responsibility and develop skills that are necessary for gaining independence. Receiving praise for their hard work also promotes good self-esteem and a feeling of accomplishment. Despite the known benefits of having children participate in household duties, it is often difficult to establish and enforce a household routine that includes chores for the children.

When establishing a list of household responsibilities, parents should be as specific as possible. For example, "keep the playroom clean" is too general and vague and should be replaced with "put away toys in playroom after dinner". It is also a good idea to start with a few simple daily tasks and build from there. At almost any age, children can understand the concept of placing dirty clothes in the hamper and putting their shoes away. This is a great place to start.

As the chore list grows beyond daily expectations, reward charts are a great way to provide positive reinforcement for your children. It may not be surprising to hear that there are "apps" that can track progress, provide rewards, and even allow the kids to turn chores into a game- competing against each other.

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