DETROIT – Getting children involved in household chores is more valuable than you might realize. Telling children to do tasks such as putting away their toys, cleaning dishes and vacuuming can teach them responsibility and improve their mental health.
Parents are looking for ways to navigate the coronavirus (COVID-19). Experts said chores can be a game changer.
“Even small children, like 2- to 5-year-olds can put away toys where they belong, can put them in appropriate bins or boxes,” said Dr. Anna Groebe, of Bloom Pediatrics.
You’ve probably heard friends and neighbors say cleaning up around the house can be soothing or therapeutic. Experts said that’s true for children, too.
The list of chores around a house can seem endless, but this could be a silver lining.
“They want to contribute in their own way, and lots of kids can -- even very small, small children -- can contribute doing things to help the families sort of function at an optimal level during this unprecedented time,” Groebe said.
Not only do chores keep children busy, but can also help them mentally.
“It really gives them a sense of inclusivity,” Groebe said. “It gives them a feeling of accomplishment when the complete the chores with you. It makes them feel like they’re part of something greater and contributing right now, which I think is all very important for their health and mental wellbeing.”
Since children are spending more time indoors or in their playrooms, having them help keep their own space clean relieves stress.
“Being able to put their doll where it belongs, or put their red cars with their other red cars, you know, can also give them that feeling on control, which really helps settle in times like these (when) everything is so uncertain,” Groebe said. “It’s also really important to help decrease clutter in the child’s home because that can actually lower their anxiety levels. So if their toys are everywhere in terms of getting out of control, we can help them be part of the cleanup process that gives them a sense of independence and control, as well as maybe making them feel a little more settled.”
Experts said children helping around the house helps them feel more capable.
“If it helps the parents decrease their stress level by having chores done, you know, more efficiently or quicker, or without a temper tantrum being involved, that can help the parents, as well,” Groebe said. “Kids just want to be part of the family. They just want to be included. They want to be involved.”
Groebe said it’s more important now than ever for children to feel like part of the team. If you have little ones, you can make them a list of chores with pictures so they can see what they have to do.