As teenagers move from childhood towards adulthood, it is important for them to learn the skills that will help them mature into independent adults. Doing chores as part of their responsibility within the family helps give them the sense of well-being and achievement that they need to be successful in the workplace and in their own homes.
When it comes to chores, boys and girls need to be treated equally. It is as important for a young man to learn to do laundry, cook and be a caregiver as it is for a young woman to learn how to take out the garbage, maintain a car and chauffeur a sibling.
Teenagers should be able to rinse, load and start the dishwasher. They can be asked to unload it and put things away properly. Teens should know how to set a proper table for a meal and how to clear the table. Teens, who often consume much of the family food, should know to add items to a shopping list as needed. They can sweep or mop the kitchen floor and learn how to clean the stove and the refrigerator.
Knowing how to cook a few basic items is a skill that teens often wish they had learned when they arrive at college. They can begin by learning how to microwave simple items and then, under supervision, learn how to use the stovetop. Many teens discover they enjoy cooking and no longer find it a “chore.”
Teens should be responsible for picking up towels and keeping the bathroom clean and neat. When they have to wipe spots off of the mirror and scrape blobs of toothpaste, they are likely to learn better habits.
Teens can wash, dry and fold their own laundry or they can do one part of the chore for the entire family. The teen habit of trying on an item of clothing and then discarding it into the hamper unworn dissipates when they have to do the laundry.
Teens can sort the recycling and bring appropriate items to the curb on the appropriate day. They need to retrieve garbage cans in a timely manner. Teens can help out in the garden and have specific chores assigned to them. Teens can straighten, dust and vacuum, wash windows and take responsibility for the family pet.
Using the family car is a big carrot for teenage compliance. It is important that the teen be responsible not just in driving the car, but for routine maintenance. The teen can wash the car, fill the tank for the family or bring it in to be serviced. Teens can be given the responsibility of driving and picking up younger siblings.
But “I’m too busy.”
Teens today are always busy. Between school, homework, sports, teams phoning, texting, being on the computer, playing video games and hanging out with friends, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of time left. Making sure your teen does his or her chores before they engage in fun activities is one way of teaching them to become responsible adults.