Bright Side

Parents Who Don’t Let Toddlers Help With Chores Tend to Have More Problems When They Become Teens

Some people may think toddlers are too fragile and clumsy to do house chores, however, some evidence has proven otherwise. Several researchers have found that they not only want to help around the house, but they might also even perform tasks successfully. And what’s better, is they’ll continue to do it into their teenage and adult years.

Bright Side has summed up several studies to show you how important it is to let kids play their part in keeping a household for their future.

Kids can be a mess or a great help depending on your attitude.

In the western world, some believe kids are extra work rather than work partners. They dismiss their children’s offers to help. Some assume that their little ones won’t be able to complete the task, leaving adults to have to do them all over again. But there are some people that do want their kids to do house chores but end attempting some form of bribery or forcing things by threatening them with punishment.

Since we see work, especially house chores, as activities people don’t typically enjoy, that’s the message we send our young boys and girls. But we’re wrong! Studies have revealed that infants as young as 12 months old naturally desire to help and if permitted, will continue to do so freely all the way into their adult life. If not, they might become teenagers and even adults who don’t feel the need to do their part or even volunteer to do some work around the family house.

Researchers confirmed that toddlers want to help.

Dr. Rheingold led an experiment where she observed 18, 24, and 30-month-old toddlers interact with either their dad or mom. The parent did regular house chores like dusting, sweeping, or picking up objects off the floor and organizing them without asking the toddler for help in any way. They were specifically directed to execute each task at a slow pace and allow their child to help if they wanted. In the end, all of the 80 children freely offered to help and performed half of the chores eagerly and excitedly.

Some cultures already know kids are great work partners.

This isn’t the first time children as young as toddlers have proven to volunteer for work. Rheingold’s findings are a global phenomenon. Take mothers from indigenous communities, for example. Parents in these communities see their kids as natural work partners, not helpers. From a young age, they welcome their little ones’ efforts to help even though they take a bit more time.

They know children who do chores not only feel satisfied following a job well done, but they also keep offering to help when they’re fully grown. So when a study compared how often kids around 8 years old take initiative in doing housework, it found that children in the western world rarely volunteer, while 74% of those in indigenous communities did it regularly.

There’s no need for a prize — toddlers aren’t after one and it might discourage them.

Don’t think that this desire to help you is driven by the anticipation of a prize such as sweets. Studies have proven many times that wanting to help doesn’t have an external motivation but rather, it’s internal. It’s a way for the kid to strengthen their bond with you and feel useful. In fact, if the helping behavior is rewarded, kids usually will volunteer less than those who get an honest smile and a “thank you” at the end of their efforts.

This was tested in an experiment where a group of children was rewarded for helping a scientist and a second group wasn’t. The first group continued to help the scientist only in 53% of cases, while kids who weren’t given any reward offered their help again 89% of the time.

So next time a little one offers to help, try to remember these findings and accept their kindness, you’ll be doing the little thing a favor that will have an altruistic impact on their future.

Do you think letting kids help is also a way of reinforcing kindness in them? Which would you say are the best tasks a parent could give to a toddler? Tell us below!

Preview photo credit
Illustrated by Mariya Zavolokina for Bright Side