Want to raise your child to be a happy and successful adult? Equip him with a tot-sized broom. Chores pack a punch when it comes to your little one’s development, from boosting independence to nurturing language skills to, yes, setting him on a path of happiness and success.
Research draws a clear line between doing chores as a child and becoming a happier, more successful adult. This famous 75-year study out of Harvard University found that people who were given chores as children went on to develop a spirit of collaboration and being a valuable part of something bigger than themselves. This, in turn, led to professional success and better relationships.
This study out of the University of Minnesota looked at 20 years of data and made a similar conclusion: The best predictor of happiness and success in young adulthood (including not doing drugs, excelling in school and the workplace, and building strong relationships) was having done chores as young as age 3 or 4.
But why wait until your child is 3 or 4? In her TED Talk, Julie Lythcott-Haims (author of ‘How to Raise an Adult‘ and former dean of freshman at Stanford University) talks about the importance of doing chores and says: “The earlier you start, the better.” The University of Minnesota research echoes this by highlighting that the lifelong lessons linked to chores are best learned when young, and that the earlier children start chores the easier it is to keep them involved as they get older.
So we say: Why not start now?
How to Build Chores into Your Toddler’s Day
First, consider what your toddler is capable of doing (maybe more than you think!).
Then, start with simple, daily chores that can become habits. Stick to chores that are age-appropriate, doable, and something your little one enjoys. Luckily toddlers are usually game for being little helpers. The Self Care area of our BabySparks program is a great resource for this.
The biggest thing to remember is this: Be patient.
Experts say that a main reason parents cite for not giving their children chores is that it’s easier to just do the tasks themselves. No matter the age, your child may never do a chore as efficiently (or as well) as you would. It might feel like time is crawling as you watch your toddler wipe up the table before you re-wipe it to get the crumbs he missed. But “helping around the house,” especially at this age, isn’t really about making things easier for you; it’s about all the invaluable ways it supports raising a happy, successful adult.