Over-scheduled kids not pulling their weight at home

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock 

Kids are so over-scheduled with sport and other extra curricular activities that their parents are giving them a free kick when it comes to chores.

It's been found that three in four children do no household chores at all, according to new research.

UK-based consumer analysts Mintel asked 2,000 parents about household chores and discovered that 76 per cent of kids aged between six and 17 had no cleaning responsibilities.

While an American poll of 1,001 parents by Whirlpool found that just 28 per cent of kids were regularly assigned chores.

According to an American child development expert Dr Deborah Gilboa it's all part of a new phenomenon called "The Expectation Gap", which she's addressed in a TED talk.

In it she talked about parents being more concerned with their kids achievements, rather than building their children's character. As a result, parents believe their kids are too busy to help with chores.

Stephanie Bryan, from Melbourne, has two boys aged 12 and 9 and has limited their extra-curricular activities to free up their time.

"They have sporting activities but we limit this to one per term so that they have time for homework and household chores," Mrs Bryan said.

"They help with washing, hanging and folding clothes, bins, cooking, shopping as well as cleaning their rooms and helping with cleaning the house."

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She said it's vital the boys learned to be independent.

"It's extremely important that they learn these life skills and contribute to the family household life as we are all busy because my husband and I both work," she said.

"I subscribe to the Michael Grose parenting theory of not doing for a child what they can do themselves," she said.

"Our job as a parent is to make ourselves redundant."

Parenting expert Mr Grose tackled the issue of encouraging independence and involvement in household jobs, in a recent blog post on his website.

He suggested inviting your kids to come up with ways that they could help around the house.

"Let kids start talking and take it from there but be prepared to make sure kids take an even spread of chores/help to avoid later resentment," he said.

He also suggested parents made it clear what they would no longer be doing to help their kids and what they required of each child, for instance not packing their lunch boxes or making their beds.

"Being clear on your responsibilities opens up simple chances for children to be more responsible," he said.

It's also advised that parents draw up a list of tasks for kids to choose from and to have regular family meetings.

"Place these jobs on a roster and get them to agree to do them for a week and then sit down with them and discuss how it went. Be positive and appreciate and be willing to make adjustments," he said.

"It really helps to listen to kids and take their ideas on board."

Kids can help in a myriad of ways, depending on their age.

Tasks include: making their beds, popping clothes in the washing machine, emptying the dishwasher, cooking meals, packing their lunchbox, vacuuming, cleaning their rooms and bringing out the bins.

It's really up to parents and children to come up with creative ways to help, suitable for their age.