A couple of months ago, we asked, “Should children do chores?” A few of you chimed in, saying that chores are a positive thing because it teaches kids to be self-sufficient and fosters a sense of helpfulness. Today we are revisiting the question, but with a spin: should children have a daily checklist?
First, we need to define ‘daily checklist.’ For our purposes, let’s establish the checklist as daily tasks -- good practices we want our children to incorporate into their daily lives. These are activities that don’t change much from day to day. Think of them as best practices or daily habits for productive people.
An appropriate task list for a grade schooler would include things like making the bed, brushing teeth, and picking up the bedroom at the end of each day. Compare this with an appropriate chore list. These are (usually) household jobs we want our children to do each day. Chore lists items would include folding towels, cleaning mirrors, and pulling weeds. Chore lists are jobs that benefit all members of a household, where a task list helps mainly the individual child. Of course, there may be some overlap between the two lists.
The benefits of a task checklist
Task lists could be viewed just as or even more critical than a chore list because it teaches children a good, lifelong routine. According to psychologists, the key to making good habits stick is to do them regularly.
But what about during the summer? Isn’t summertime all about sleeping late, eating popsicles by the dozen, and spending all day at the pool? Some parents disregard structure during the summer because they feel they are giving the gift of freedom to their children.
But at what cost? Summer is one-fourth of a year. How much time will it take to instill these good habits once school begins? It takes three weeks of performing a behavior to form a habit. So if your child gets back into good habits by mid-fall, will they want to take a break from those habits once Christmas break comes? At that point, the right practices are far from being a routine.
Task lists provide structure for children, and even though they can’t articulate it, and they also may argue against it, children crave structure and consistency. Structure and consistency lead to higher self-esteem.
Task lists also teach children responsibility. If each child learns that part of their task each day is to pick up after themselves, then they discover they are responsible for their own behavior. If they throw their towel on the floor, and they know that part of their task is to pick it up later that day, maybe they won’t throw it on the floor in the first place! A real-world example of this is when my son started putting his dirty dishes directly into the dishwasher. I nagged him about it 3 times a day before and it never stuck. Now that his chore on Tuesday and Thursday is dishes, he found it to be less work if he doesn't throw everything in the sink and let it build up. Guess who gets nagged about dishes in the sink now?
Note: Cadily will be giving away a one-year subscription to Koala Crate this summer! Stay alert to find out how you can win one for your family.
Teaching children how to be productive humans
Structure keeps you, as a parent, on track. What if you forget to remind your four-year-old to brush his teeth? If you have taught him his daily tasks, maybe he will do it on his own without your reminder.
Task lists and chores are essential for the development and growth of a happy, productive child. A calmer and more peaceful household is another instant byproduct.
Does your child have a task list? Comment below the age of your child and the daily tasks they complete.
We are excited to announce that reminding your child to complete their daily tasks will soon become easier! Cadily will be releasing a new task chart for children between ages four through eight. Stay tuned to find out more information about this new product.
Next week, we’ll continue our discussion of age-appropriate tasks for children.