Empowering Children Through Chores

Little boy working planting in the farm outdoorI am a woman who had three kids in three years and found myself at a crossroads one day. I was so used to doing so much for my children because they were so close in age but suddenly they were able to start doing some things for themselves. I knew I needed to take the time to show them how, which was a struggle for me. So many times it is easier to just do things yourself. We took baby steps of course, changing the toilet paper roll, making a sandwich, putting away laundry. It took patience and time (on my part and theirs) but I soon noticed how much it did for my children.

I found that giving them chores is not only rewarding, it really empowers them. It builds their self confidence and makes them appreciate things in a different way. Food tastes better when they make it, a clean bathroom stays clean longer when they are the one that has done the dirty work. Here are some other things I have found:

It Helps Them With Decision Making And Negotiation Since I have three kids and many chores that need to be done, I give them a list and let them decide who does what. Of course this sometimes backfires and when this happens they know that I will just tell them who does what and the freedom of them deciding amongst themselves is gone. For that reason they are able to decide and negotiate. If my daughter got a fun chore, like collecting the chicken eggs yesterday, she knows that it is fair to let someone else have that chore and she can tackle something else, like folding the laundry.

It Keeps Them From Being Bored I try really hard to teach my kids that if they are bored it is their own fault. Life is too beautiful and precious to find yourself bored. Besides, there is always windows that need to be washed and closets to be cleaned out. Knowing that keeps their imaginations and their bodies working.

It Changes Their Moods I have seen my kids go from being antsy and naughty to acting confident and capable after they have completed a chore. They seem so proud that they have accomplished something and perhaps learned a new skill. I especially remember a time when my youngest was helping me weed the garden. At first he was fussy, too hot and too tired to help but before long he started asking me several questions about the flowers and herbs that we had planted. He wanted to know how to take care of them, how you get the seeds, how long they take to grow. He now saved seeds from the fruits and vegetables that he eats, dries the seeds out and plants them himself the following spring.

It Makes Them Feel Good To Help Out It can be so rewarding for them to see how happy it makes me to have have help, but when they take charge and do something that contributes to the household they feel a sense of pride. I don’t want them growing up thinking that all the work has to be done by the parents. When they feel capable to do one thing, they are willing to try another. And eventually, they feel good enough to teach someone else. That is true empowerment right there. I have seen it spread to other areas in their life too. Helping others is an important life skill that I want my kids to embrace.

It Is Preparing Them For Their Future Most of life involves hard work. I don’t care if you are talking about relationships or trying to thread a needle. It also takes patience, kindness, prioritizing and concentration. Being responsible and held accountable for jobs around the house (no matter how small) has prepared them for some of that.

Of course, like all families, we have shed many tears and thrown tantrums when it comes to doing chores. Life is not always easy, and neither is vacuuming the floor on a Sunday morning when you would rather be outside playing with the neighbors. But it has been a constant in our home and not only is my life is easier because of it, my kids truly feel empowered because they know how to load and run the dishwasher, work the washing machine and take care of all of our animals. And I can only hope that that they will empower their children in the same way.

About the Author

Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine with her husband and three children. She is a freelance writer and contributes regulary to the popular parenting website Scary Mommy. You can see more of her on her blog www.philigry.com, Facebook and Instagram


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