Science of Parenting: Children Learn from Chores

April 5, 2016, 9:48 am | Janet Smith, Lori Korthals, Laura Sternweis

Cleaning DishesAMES, Iowa – When children don’t have time for household chores, it’s time to reevaluate their busy schedules, say the Science of Parenting bloggers from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

“Many parents are concerned about their children’s achievement and success. But some fill their children’s schedules with so many activities, tutoring sessions and private lessons, that there is no time left for learning to help at home,” said Janet Smith, a human sciences specialist in family life.

“However, getting your kids to complete household chores may be a better strategy for long-term positive social and academic outcomes than whatever additional activities they are involved in,” Smith said.

Research from the University of Minnesota found that young adults who began chores at ages 3 and 4 were more likely to have good relationships with family and friends, to achieve academic and early career success and to be self-sufficient, as compared with those who didn’t have chores or who started doing chores as teens.

“Mastery, responsibility and self-reliance are important skills for young people to learn, and they can learn these skills by completing simple household chores,” said Lori Hayungs, also a human sciences specialist in family life.

“Teaching kids how to pick up their toys, set the table at mealtime and complete other chores around the house leads to an organized household with children who are contributing to the family and learning to be kind and helpful,” Hayungs said.

This month Smith and Hayungs will discuss age appropriate tasks and ways parents can encourage compliance without resistance. They’ll talk about giving rewards for doing chores, as well as how to acknowledge children’s success and address consequences for uncompleted tasks.

Learn more from tips on the blog throughout the month and in a four-minute podcast. Through the Science of Parenting,, ISU Extension and Outreach specialists share and discuss research-based information and resources to help parents rear their children. Parents can join in the conversation and share thoughts and experiences, as well as how they handle parenting responsibilities.

The Science of Parenting from ISU Extension and Outreach also is available on Twitter and via text message.

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