Value in Giving Children Chores

Angelina unloads the dishwasher
Kids Chores

Is there value in giving children chores? Maybe a small task around the house or should children concern themselves with little more than play?

Our parenting styles are all different. There are; attachment, nurturing, concerted cultivation, helicopter, strict, slow, punishment/reward, Christian and aware styles, and of course, like most parents we combined a number of these styles to make our own.  The main categories are: authoritative, authoritarian, neglectful and indulgent parenting styles and most loosely fall under them and are self-explanatory.

Attachment parenting style is gained through strong bonds through a holistic understanding of your child, similar to the awareness style where the child’s feelings are at the forefront of teaching and discipline.

Nurturing parenting style is a family model that lets the child explore the world under the watchful eye of the family. This reminds me of the Montessori method, creating boundaries and letting them explore within.

Some parents choose to give their children a strict environment where the rules are clearly laid out. While others choose a more friendly approach that is based on sharing their emotions when conflict occurs. In this form talking to the children like adults or friends is the key factor.

Concerted cultivation parenting style caught my attention, as it is a North American parenting style I am all too familiar with. These are the families running from one extracurricular activity to the next, trying to foster their child’s talent. We were sucked into this parenting style when living in Canada, and realized it was not helping our two foster any talents except complete exhaustion, and it left little time to just be a family.

The helicopter mom (or dad) micromanages each and every action, clearing a path before the child, trying to control and save them from any bad experience. Many may have witnesses this behaviour. Imagine a student from your child’s class receiving his or her first report card, and the mother is  shocked that the teacher does not understand the true value of the child and marches back into the class to make the teacher understand. In the end the teacher changes the grade thinking it is only kindergarten after all. And the ability to count to ten should not cause this much angst.

Slow parenting style gives children less structured activity, instead focuses on the child’s natural ability to learn allowing children to be children and explore their environment at their own pace. These parents let the children determine what they want to learn in the home environment, organically following the child. The children lead the learning process.

Slow and nurturing yet holding true to a strict environment are our family’s parenting styles of choice. We have resorted to a vast combination of all the styles at different times depending on the situation and the severity of our children’s behaviour. Daniel and Angelina do best when the rules are clear, the consequences are consistent and they have the power to make their own decisions. For instance, if the kids can manage their time to fit in something that is important to them, I have no problem changing our day around. It matters not if homework is done later or earlier, or if dinner is later or earlier, what matters most to me is that the family is a cohesive unit, listening to everyone’s needs. The same goes if I have plans or a meeting and need to change things around. I want the family to have the ability to handle change, and easily maneuver around problems to find solutions.

No matter what your style, or what name you give it, giving them chores may have a positive outcome.

While Alfonz was away during the fall break in Hungary, Daniel and Angelina helped me around the house. I noticed a pride that developed in both children being able to fill in the gap my husband left behind. Both kids brought in firewood, helped set and clear the table for each meal, loaded and unloaded the dishwasher as well as their normal chores: feeding the cat, cleaning their rooms, making their beds and putting their clothes away after I launder them. If I ask them to do something around the house, they do it. Sometimes hesitantly, but they do it.

Daniel stepped up on his own accord, when he noticed I was too busy taking apart and fixing the washing machine after it broke. He took the initiative and made us lunch. After that he simply asked if he could take on the lunch task as his own. It made him feel big and important to help me out when needed and I guess he liked my reaction to his help and continues to do it.

One morning, after a rare lay-in with a head cold, I came down stairs and caught my daughter cleaning the kitchen. Being so short, she managed to clean the fascia of the bottom cupboard doors with a sponge and soapy water until they shined. She also tidied up the living room, putting away anything out of place which is normally done before bed but was too sick to do the night before. They pick up where I left off.

Not everything we try works and there can be conflict. Our home has a strict set up where the rules are clear as to what the children are and are not allowed to do but within that structure the children are able to roam freely and question everything as well as push those boundaries. We create a safe environment for them to learn and as they grow their freedom increases as do their chores.

Our family expectation is that everyone has a part in the running of the house. We help each other in the daily functions and take care of the things we have, respecting our home and getting things done.

What I did not expect is that the children would take initiative when there are holes in the system. Acting as a team, the children naturally took it upon themselves to complete the tasks that were not completed, for whatever reason. It was never asked of them it just happened.

What do you think? Should children be part of the daily chores of the house, or concern themselves with their own tasks?

I would  love to know what parenting style your family has developed over the years?


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Our mission is to share our family's move to France, and now to Hungary, how to slow travel with kids, and give tips and ideas as to what works and what doesn't being an expat and a travelling family in Europe. Expat experts on an adventure!

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  1. Hi Christine! long time my lovely friend,
    Hope you all are doing well in BC. I miss coffees over at my place.
    Our kids do their homework right after school too.The work load here is crazy, so we balance it with tennis on Wednesdays and they each get something they choose. Daniel is in Handball and Angelina is in Jazz. There is also pressure here to have the kids in: swimming, piano, soccer, rugby, ballet, language lessons etc….but the children of France have an allowance for such activities. And they are cheap. Tennis is 160 for both for the year! The lessons are included in that price plus access to the courts whenever they want. Handball and jazz are even less 50/each for the year. But that is more than enough extra curricular activities for our family when Daniels games take us all over the map.

    I parent by mood. It just depends on the moon and of course how tired we all are. I do snap when the kids get out of hand, something I work on and I will do anything to resolve conflict. Sometimes divide and conquer, other times bribery and sometimes wine while I help with homework….whatever it takes! I am not laid back in the slightest when it comes to the kids, but like you I enjoy spending my time with them.
    Thanks for commenting Christine and say hello to your neighbours for us. Tell them we miss them too! xo

  2. Hey Eva, I think we use a mixture of all parenting styles depending on the child and probably my mood! However we have a very structured environment at home which I think is also friendly!! Millie and Nina know exactly what I expect of them in general housekeeping. They know their “chores” which more kindly put is about helping their mum. I sometimes have to give them a nudge but they do whatever I ask without question. We have a busy house and they like it better when it is under control. Abbey and Jackson also know to tidy their room, laundry in laundry room albeit with my instruction. Homework and achieving to the best of your ability is an expectation. All 4 of them tackle homework immediately they come home from school. No prompting is needed, it is just how it works in our house. If it is left until after dinner, the little ones are too tired.
    We try to limit outside activities, simply because it I so expensive to take part in anything here! Also Mark is a great believer that they just need some time to “hangout”. I feel more social pressure than he does ( he feels none!) but I think we just about agree on what they are all up to.
    I sometimes wish I was more of a laid back mum but I look around my little brood and think we are doing ok.

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