How to empower your child through chores

By Keir Mercer, Brookridge Day School First Grade Teacher

I think back to when my own children were young, and I remember how much they loved to do any simple chore or job that I gave them.  They loved to help make cookies, wash the dishes, set the table, sort the laundry, and on and on.  As kids grow up, they still like to help, but we as adults sometimes become so accustomed to doing things for our children that we forget that they are fully capable of doing things for themselves.  Or we do something for them because it is simply quicker than having them do it.

I often think back to the quote of “When you cut it for me, write it for me, open it for me, set it up for me, draw it for me, or find it for me, all I learn is that you do it better than me.”  Wow.  What powerful words!

Our job as parents is to find that fine line of helping our children but not doing too much for them.  If we give them things that they can do, they feel such a sense of accomplishment!  This is what we want for our children.  We WANT them to be able to do things for themselves.  We WANT them to learn to be responsible.  We WANT them to learn how to problem solve.  We WANT them to be able to cope with mistakes and correction.  We WANT them to be able to get themselves ready in the mornings by themselves.  But if we continue to do everything for them, they do not learn to do it.  They only learn to let you do it.

Things to let your child do by themselves:

Preschool: put on their coat, pick out clothes to wear the next day, clear the table after dinner.

Kindergarten: snap/zip/button/tie, pick up toys, know their address/phone number.

First grade: carry their own backpack, empty the trash, make a simple snack, pack their own backpack.

Second grade: brush hair and teeth, sort clothes for the laundry, make their bed, make their own lunch.

Third grade: vacuum, fold laundry, feed pets, load/unload dishwasher.

Age appropriate chores are so important for our children!  They teach them to be a hard worker.  They feel helpful and needed when they finish a chore.  Chores teach responsibility.  They feel important, like a part of a team.  If your children learn to help now, they will be able to help later.  As hard as it may be sometimes, it is important to let kids do what they can.


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