Why Chores are Good
It’s just after dinner and there is a large pile of dishes in the sink. Your teenager beside you is quickly scarfing the last remnants of food from their plate and making sideway glances at their phone. You are exhausted from your day and want nothing more than to relax, but you have a difficult choice to make. Do you insist your teenager help out and do the dishes or do you do them yourself, skipping the long arguments and countless reminders that are sure to follow?
Making middle schoolers do their chores is…well, a chore. Young adolescents are in a strange stage of their development when their desire to be considered responsible often conflicts with their impulses to socialize. They want to be helpful and feel useful, but they also don’t want to miss out on anything happening with their friends. As a parent it can be challenging to navigate these moments. You want to make sure your teenager learns responsibility, but you also get tired of sounding like a nag and feel tempted to just skip the drama. When faced with these tough choices, it’s important to remember why chores are good. It’s also helpful to have some strategies in your back pocket to keep things running smooth.
The Importance of Chores
Chores provide young adolescents with a sense of purpose. When doing chores, they recognize that other people depend on them. They feel accomplished to be doing actual work that matters. By exposing them to real labor, they gain an appreciation for all the invisible work that goes into maintaining a home. Feeling responsible for their living spaces provides them with a deeper appreciation for the messes they make. They learn to lessen their workload by picking up after themselves and cleaning the chaos as it happens.
Chores also teach valuable life skills that will serve your teen for the rest of their lives. Freelance journalist, Karin Klein, reflects on the importance of knowing these skills in her Sacramento Bee op-ed, Too Many of Us Can’t Cook. That’s Bad for Our Health and Finances. And if that isn’t convincing, the internet is full of memes of college students not being to care for themselves after leaving home. Adolescents who do chores are more capable to take of themselves when they are finally out on their own.
Sure, They’re Important, but How Do You Get Teenagers to Do Chores?
It’s one thing to understand why chores are good and another to be good at getting your teen to do them. Here are some helpful strategies that might make chores a lot more fun and effective:
1. Work alongside your teen.
2. Rely on Natural Consequences
3. Use Positive Peer Pressure
4. Have a Friend or Sibling Teach Them
5. Keep Your Expectations Realistic
-by Nicholas Maldonado