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What kids learn from doing chores

Merry Maids offers cleaning hacks to get kids

Merry Maids offers cleaning hacks to get kids involved with household chores. Credit: iStock

My daughter is not quite 2 and she already understands the concept of cleaning up her toys. Well, realistically, it's only some of the time. 

Most nights her playroom is in complete disarray. When I tell her it's time to clean up, she starts singing her version of the "cleanup song" and puts a few things away. It only lasts about 30 seconds, but I'm happy she's trying. 

James G. Wellborn, a clinical psychologist and author of "Raising Teens in the 21st Century: A Practical Guide to Effective Parenting" (12 Mile Bayou Press; $17.99) believes getting your children into the habit of doing chores at a young age will prepare them for the real world. 

"Like so many time-honored parental expectations, household chores have a value more significant than the practical issue of household maintenance," said Wellborn. 

Here, Wellborn reveals six real-world values your kids may learn from doing chores: 

1. Responsibility "When you make a mess, you are obligated to clean it up," he said. The most straightforward reason your kid needs to do chores is to drive the point home that he/she is responsible for his/her actions in the world (and the messes he/she makes).

2. Personal obligation When you live with other people, you’re obliged to contribute to the general upkeep of common living areas. "Chores help your kid learn to pull his/her own weight when it comes to keeping shared spaces clean," said Wellborn.

3. Organization and prioritizing Chores are unpleasant for most kids. Unfortunately, life is filled with unpleasant but necessary tasks. "Chores provide the chance for your kid to practice making time for necessary evils like routine maintenance in their schedule of otherwise fun or meaningful activities," he said. "This helps them learn how to plan, organize, prioritize and suffer."

4. Sensitivity for others It isn’t crucial that things be straightened or cleaned. Exposure to germs and disease can help build the immune system. "But, there are some things you do because it is important to someone else (like, say, a spouse)," he said. "Chores provide your kids with a clear message that the world doesn’t revolve around them and they need to take others’ feelings and sensibilities into consideration."

5. Pride in a job well done "It's important to take pride in even the most insignificant tasks," said Wellborn. "Chores help your kids learn that every task, however base, is an opportunity to work their hardest and do their best. (The expression on their face when you feed them this line is priceless.)"

6. Self-sufficiency "OK, this reason really isn’t that important," he said. "If your kid needs a lot of practice before he can skillfully take out the trash or sweep the floor, you have much bigger challenges than getting chores done."

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