Kids who do chores are more successful as adults, according to Julie Lythcott-Haims, former Dean of Freshmen at Stanford University and author of How to Raise an Adult.
The value of assigning children household chores was popular in older generations but this has changed in recent years, much to the detriment of today’s children.
"By making them do chores—taking out the garbage, doing their own laundry—they realize I have to do the work of life in order to be part of life," said Julie Lythcott-Haims, former Dean of Freshmen at Stanford University and author of How to Raise an Adult.
According to Parents, Lythcott-Haims’ research, which she based on the long-running Harvard Grant Study, found that not only are people who did more childhood chores happier later in life, they also go on to become better employees. Kids who grow up doing chores learn responsibility and figure out how to get tasks done and they develop a work ethic early on in life.
"If kids aren't doing the dishes, it means someone else is doing that for them," Lythcott-Haims explained. "And so, they're absolved of not only the work, but of learning that work has to be done and that each one of us must contribute for the good of the whole."
We may be so consumed with all the other pressures of parenting that we tend to underestimate the importance of asking kids to help out at home. Lythcott-Haims opened up about this connection in a TED Talk on how parents can raise successful kids without resorting to over-parenting.
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Lythcott-Haims spoke out about our tendency as modern day parents to over-protect and over-direct kids. According to her, chores instill a certain mindset in kids, telling them certain things must be done, and they should be the ones to do the work. She also recommends that parents re-think their definitions of success-- getting into a specific college, earning certain test scores, or assuming a certain career path.
The study's findings suggest that maybe we should let kids get their hands a little dirty--something as simple as mopping the floor may yield greater benefit than spending an extra hour doing math drills or practicing the piano. So, let the kids do the dishes tonight—they’ll thank you later.