The willingness and capacity to work in childhood is the most important forerunner – more than native intelligence, social class or family situation -of mental health in adulthood, according to the results of a newly published study.
Assignment of Household Chores has Declined
In a recent poll of parents, only 28% said they have assigned regular household chores to their children, even though 82% of parents said they grew up doing chores. What has contributed to the decline? One thought explaining the ebb in emphasis on household responsibilities is a focus on improved academic performance and participation in many activities e.g. sports, music, etc. In an effort to raise more well-rounded children, we have appropriately addressed their scholarly and external pursuits. Family schedules have become filled with activities and transportation leaving less time and energy for household chores. To be sure, a focus on academics and activities is worthwhile and recommended. This article reports on published studies which make a case for adding chores to the mix of daily activities as a means for improving successful outcomes for our children.
Two long term studies provide guidance on this issue. Both make a strong case for the importance of incorporating household chores into a child’s schedule. The first study completed by the University of Minnesota, over a 20-year period, concludes that the best predictor of future success is whether children started doing chores at an early age! Success was measured using the factors of improving chances that children will complete their education, have a successful career, and good social relationships. The second study, conducted at the Harvard Medical School, for over 75 years, concluded that the willingness and capacity to work in childhood, by doing chores and housework, was the best predictor of success in adulthood.
“When young people are expected to pitch in by contributing to the household, it leads to a mind-set of pitching in in other settings, such as the workplace” states Julie Lythcott-Haims, former dean of undergraduate advising at Stanford University. “Household chores help kids build responsibility, autonomy and perseverance, all traits necessary to becoming capable adults.” “Failing to give kids chores, deprives them of the satisfaction of applying their effort to a task and accomplishing it.” “Having to fit chores into schedules teaches kids to manage their time, a skill necessary in adulthood.”
Harvard Grant Study
Dr. Richard Bromfield, faculty psychologist at Harvard Medical School, echoes the statements of Lythcott-Haims, “The payoff of assigning chores builds a sense of competency and a budding work ethic.” “Doing household chores also helps kids feel like they’re part of the team. Pitching in and helping family members is good for them and it encourages them to be good citizens,” said Dr. Bromfield.
One of the many conclusions of the study’s findings is that kids who are given household chores grew up to be adults who were more independent, better able to work in collaborative groups and equipped to understand that they are a valuable part of a community. Essentially, chores give children the fundamental building blocks toward developing a willing attitude, which is what will fuel success in the workplace in interpersonal relationships.
As parents, we look for ways to improve the chances of success for our children. It turns out we do not have to look far. Emptying the garbage, putting dishes in the dishwasher, helping with the laundry, etc., are excellent habits for lifelong success, and they do not require any driving!
For additional information on the subject refer to the books listed below.
“How to Raise an Adult,” Julie Lythcott-Haims
“How to Unspoil Your Child Fast.” Richard Bromfield
North Shore Family Services is here to support you too. If you would like a little extra guidance and care for your family, please reach out and schedule a therapy appointment today!