Want your child to grow into a good person? Hand them the dishcloth

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 Photo: iStock

In news that will devastate children but have parents fist pumping everywhere, science has shown that giving children chores is actually good for them.

That's right. Next time you ask your kid to put down their iPad and take the bins out you'll not only be getting stuff done around your house, but you'll be contributing a better-functioning, happier, and more successful human to society.

In a mammoth 75-year Harvard study, researchers followed two groups of people to see "what psychosocial variables and biological processes from earlier in life predict health and wellbeing in late life". The first group was 268 Harvard graduates from classes of 1939 to 1944; the second group was 465 men who grew up in poor inner-city neighbourhoods in Boston.

What the study found was that subjects who were given chores as kids grew up to be adults who were more independent, better able to work in collaborative groups, and better able to understand that even though doing chores or hard work can be unpleasant at the time, it is a valuable contribution to make to a community.

Giving children chores gives them a better grasp of deferred gratification, and contributing to something bigger than themselves. That kind of understanding can then lead to better career and relationship success.

So really, by giving your children chores you're doing the world a massive favour.

To gather this information, Harvard's study had to be seriously in-depth. Director of the study Robert Waldinger said, "To get the clearest picture of these lives, we don't just send them questionnaires. We interview them in their living rooms. We get their medical records from their doctors. We draw their blood, we scan their brains, we talk to their children. We videotape them talking with their wives about their deepest concerns.

"And when, about a decade ago, we finally asked the wives if they would join us as members of the study, many of the women said, 'You know, it's about time.'"

The aim of the study was actually to find out what a happy relationship looks like, but these findings about chores have been an interesting by-product. And while happy relationships are great, parents everywhere are thrilled with this happy accident.