It's hard to pinpoint the exact age at which your child should begin to do basic household chores and even more debatable as to whether he or she should be rewarded for doing them. But during a recent Ted Talk, Julie Lythcott-Haims claimed one thing was clear: children who do chores are more likely to be professionally successful adults.
She explained that while parents think they're doing their kids a favor by preoccupying them with imaginary lists of accomplishments they need to check off to be competitive applicants for elite universities (start special interest clubs, get straight As, etc.), in the process, they're excusing them from doing the things that will make them highly effective adults and thriving members of the work force. Specifically, pitching in around the house.
She cites the longitudinal Harvard Grant Study, which she says found that the earlier children start doing chores, the earlier they're ingrained with instinct to roll up their sleeves and pitch in to do what needs to be done, even if it's unpleasant, because it contributes to the overall betterment of the whole. It's this very attitude that gets you ahead in the workplace, Julie explains.
"In the checklisted childhood, we absolve our kids of doing the work of chores around the house, and then they end up as young adults in the workplace still waiting for a checklist, but it doesn't exist, and more importantly, lacking the impulse, the instinct to roll up their sleeves and pitch in and look around and wonder, 'How can I be useful to my colleagues? How can I anticipate a few steps ahead to what my boss might need?'"
From this longterm perspective, it seems the right time to start having your kids do chores is tonight.