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Helping Your Children By Teaching Them To Help Out

Helping Your Children By Teaching Them To Help Out is a guest post by Dr. Barbara Cox, Ph.D.

Dr Barbara Cox, Ph.D

Sometimes, it just seems easier as a parent to throw in the towel and say “I’ll just do this chore myself, instead of nagging the kiddo to do it…”. I know I am very familiar with this scenario, as I have a 14-year old. I am, at times, tempted to just do whatever task it is myself, rather than ask them to do it. It seems faster sometimes. However, that doesn’t help anyone in the long run. Research shows that giving your kids some chores and asking them to help out around the house builds character and leadership skills. So, I know it can feel hard to train them but, it will help them out in the long-run to mature into well-balanced adults, plus, you get the help parents! So, here are some suggestions:

• Give incremental, developmentally-appropriate tasks: Sharing responsibilities helps empower your kids, as they learn that they do, in fact, contribute to the family, and to the community at large. Find age-appropriate tasks you can delegate to your children. For example, a toddler can carry their plastic bowls and plates to the table. They can also help put small cans in the pantry or dust a table. As they get older, give them more complex tasks. Not only does this free up some of your time at the home, it also teaches your kids how to be self-sufficient. It might feel uncomfortable at first, and your kids might balk in the beginning, but overtime you will see them become stronger, more capable individuals. And isn’t that what every parent wants for their child?

• As they get older, encourage what I call “the lemonade-stand work ethic”. For instance, let them take the babysitting certification (many community centers offer a class and certification) at age 12+ and learn how to babysit, or maybe they are a bit entrepreneurial and want to set up a lemonade stand in front of the house to earn a little spending money. This type of regular work teaches them to be responsible, to show up on time and commit to a task, things they will surely need when they become working adults at 18.
If you put in the role-modeling and teaching up-front, it will pay off handsomely in the future. Rather than remain helpless and dependent at age 30, they will have learned instead that they are capable and creative members of society, that enjoy being part of a team and contributing to their community.

Barbara Cox, Ph.D. ( is a consultant and coach for innovative leaders and organizations. To learn more about meditation, try one of the free guided recordings at Her advice has been featured in local and national publications, including and Cosmopolitan and other holistic health and wellness publications. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of California, San Diego, and started her career as an environmental scientist, most notably organizing environmental projects for the Department of Defense. She has master’s and doctorate degrees in psychology from Alliant International University – San Diego.