How Your Cleaning Addiction Could Be Hurting Your Child
When I was in Jr. High I had a friend who I always envied…he had the perfect mom. We would go over to his house after school and it was spotless. I mean “eat off the floor” kind of spotless. His mom kept things very nice and always had some great treat prepared for us.
We would even go to his room and she had made his bed perfectly; she had done all his laundry and folded it with perfection; his room was organized in some complicated but perfect fashion; everything was in its place and amazing.
I remember thinking, “Wow he has the cleanest mom!” I think I may have even explained this phenomenon to my own mother in hopes that she would model her cleaning habits after the mother of my friend.
Well…fast forward to the year 2014. At the age of 33, my friend JUST moved out of his parent’s house! Not that this was the reason, but it definitely was a contributing factor.
If you’ve found yourself thinking you have some similarities to my friend’s mom, we love you and respect you (my friend’s mom is still an amazing person); but we’re going to show you – according to several case studies – why this practice is not helping your child.
Chores Make Kids Happier
I know what you’re thinking, “Uh…you should come take a look at my kids when I ask them to do chores, they are NOT happy!”
This is the case with many kids these days. Did you know, in the early 1900s, orphaned teenage boys used to be the easiest to place in a foster home? It was because they could and would work the hardest and be a great contribution to the family. Today, teenage boys are the hardest to place in foster homes. We are asking our children to do less and less, which is breeding lazy, entitled habits.
Did you know that giving kids chores actually makes them happier??? In a 2010 UCLA study, researchers Eva H. Telzer and Andrew J. Fuligni studied more than 700 teenagers between the ages of 14 and 15 years old. The researchers had the teens keep a diary of two things:
- What chores they helped with around the house, including times and durations
- Their mood throughout the day specifically times they felt stressed, anxious or depressed
Surprisingly, the researchers found that when the teens were completing chores not only did they not have stress, but had feelings of happiness. At first this may seem counter-intuitive, but I know at our house sometimes it’s tough to get the kids to start cleaning but once they get started they realize they actually enjoy work and find it self-fulfilling.
The research also showed that kids who did more chores than their peers showed greater feelings of happiness and well-being. How many of you know a mean, entitled, selfish young man or woman who comes from a family who owns a farm? In my experience, these are some of the nicest, happiest, most humble people I know. There is definitely a correlation between hard work and happiness.
How Do I Get My Kids to Do Chores?
So if we know work will make our kids happier and better people, what can we do (short of moving to a dairy farm J) to get our kids to do more chores?
Well, each child and each family is different, but here are some ideas that you can think about implementing in your own family:
- We use the Workstars Family Economy System with our kids. This is somewhat of a shameless plug (because we designed the system), but we and hundreds of other families have seen great success with the system. You can learn more here.
- Use another chore chart system. There are plenty of great ideas and systems out there. Find one that will motivate your child and use it. Positive motivation is key.
- Use a commission system. I am NOT a fan of allowances. Who wants to teach their kids they get money for doing nothing? If your kids are of the age they want to save and buy things, use commissions to pay for chores. This is great training for the real world.
- Create a family store. This is also part of the Workstars Family Economy System, but is pretty self-explanatory. Get some items that your children really enjoy and put them in a family store. Have them earn the items throughout the week and generate some excitement by letting your children see what’s in the family store.
- Cut them off. If you have teenagers, stop funding their entitlement attitude. At age 14 explain to them that they need to save for a car and it will not be given to them with a bow on their 16th Set up a matching system where you can help them learn to save and feel what “delayed gratification” means.
There are many other ideas and resources on our site to kick-start building new work habits with your children. Please take a look around.
Depending on the age of your child, these habits could be deeply entrenched. It will pay HUGE dividends to start early, but it’s never too late to help your kids learn to enjoy work.
So, the next time your kid whines about doing their chores, just take a deep breath and remember, “Chores Will Make Them Happier!”