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Gerardo Castillo, Professor of the School of Education and Psychology of the University of Navarra

A finding: the correlation between helping out at home and succeeding in life

To support and educate their children, parents work and make sacrifices. The children (according to their age and capacity) should reciprocate by helping them in some aspect of the household work and avoiding overloading them, for example by keeping their room tidy and making their bed. In addition, they should accept some chores (setting and clearing the table, taking out the garbage, watering the plants, etc.). But nowadays it is not common for children to collaborate in household chores. Let's see why.


Thu, 08 Feb 2018 09:10:00 +0000 Published in Montañes Newspaper

One of the causes is lack of time. In addition to the excess of homework pointed out by some teachers, there is an excess of extracurricular activities promoted by some parents.

With this subject of activities, idleness is avoided, formative leisure and valuable hobbies are encouraged, which are often the awakening of a specific professional vocation. The problem is not these activities, but their excess. There are parents who manage to harmonize them every day with homework and financial aid at home, but there are also cases in which the adult eagerness to "do curriculum" is extended to children.

I recently overheard a parent bragging to others: "My son does six things a week: yoga, judo, dance, guitar, graffiti and robotics. That comment elicited a quick response, "well mine does eight..."

Psychologist Madeline Levine, in her book Teach Your Children Well, argues that this parental attitude is usually characteristic of parents who project dissatisfaction onto their children staff; they want them to achieve what they were unable to achieve. By doing so, they are sending their children this message: "your instruction staff matters more than service to others".

These parents will be very surprised to learn that some current research has found that many bright professionals with good grades in their previous stage of training helped effectively at home. That's because that experience makes children more confident, hardworking and character-building, all of which are critical to learning.

Marty Rossman, a professor at the University of Minnesota and author of a longitudinal study on the importance of household chores, found that one of the key predictors of whether a child will succeed - occupationally and personally - in the future is whether or not he or she had chores at home when growing up.

Rossman's research argues that household chores give children a sense of skill and service to others, which is what the family is all about. The same researcher adds that if they are not asked to do anything at home, children think that everyone must be at their service; moreover, they grow up with a distorted idea of life.

Today's children are becoming more accustomed to receiving than giving. They are left alone playing video games, surfing the Internet or watching TV, without any control or demands.


When children cooperate at home, they learn that they are valued members of the family and that they have a responsibility to the family. This teaching could be lost if parents undervalue household chores.

It is highly recommended that children start financial aid at home in early childhood because little ones love to work with their parents and imitate them. If you wait until they are teenagers to ask them to do this partnership, they will most likely not understand it.

It is essential to adapt the orders to the age and tastes of each child and present them as a test of trust from their parents and a form of solidarity with their family, and not as a mere obligation. 

In some cases, it may be appropriate to assign them a certain task to correct a defect. For example, a very messy child may be asked to tidy up the playroom every day. This criterion is not understood by some mothers: "It is an absurd assignment, because the child will do it badly; I prefer to do it myself". This incomprehension comes from putting efficiency (a well-ordered house) before the improvement of the person (a child being educated).

Finally, it is advisable to explain to each son that the task assigned to him should not be seen as his only family financial aid ; the educational is not to perform a specific task, but to share the responsibility of keeping the fire of the home alive.