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I was discussing with my fiancée about our expectations of our future children to perform chores at home. While we do both agree that chores are to be performed (in accordance to the child's development), we disagree on how that should be enforced. I am looking for scientific studies on the different methods to assign children chores.

  • I believe there should be clear and consistent expectations, and we should try to avoid pointed asking/demanding them to perform tasks which are not "on their list". For example, say we have a 10 year-old. We could set him to clean the yard and cut the grass every Saturday, or even weekly. He could even choose when to do it, as long as the grass is clean by Sunday evening. If he doesn't do it -- say by Sunday morning -- I might have to remind him of it, escalating the warnings as necessary (for example, in the a second time I might remind him I can take the internet down until he does it). Either if there is a lot of work or not to be done, the expectation is the same: clean the yard.

  • On the other hand, she believes that the child should perform tasks as they are needed, whenever we ask him to do it. For example, there might not be the need to clean the yard every week. Whenever the yard is not good enough, we might ask/demand him to clean it. If the yard is good enough, or if we did it ourselves for some reason, we might ask him to perform some other task to help out around the house.

We had slightly distinct experiences growing up, and I believe this is where our different opinions stem from. I can understand (as a layman) that these different approaches will lead to different outcomes. For example, her approach could lead the child to have a broader range of habilities, whereas (I expect) mine could reduce overall stress.

So to pinpoint my question:

What are the advantages and disadvantages of different methods of assigning chores to children?

So in the end I am trying to find scientific studies on this subject. As we are both university professors (in Sciences), peer-reviewed research ought to end the discussion, at least for what approach should make everyone happier at the end.


I have tried looking up on my own for an answer, but I couldn't find a satisfying response. For reference, here's what I've found so far:

Children and Chores: A Mixed-Methods Study of Children’s Household Work in Los Angeles Families, DOI:10.1111/j.1548-1417.2009.01030.x: In the abstract:

"We suggest that while most children are aware that their working parents need help, in some families, inconsistent and unclear expectations from parents negatively affect children's participation in household work".

This is essentially my opinion. However from reading their paper I could not see where this conclusion comes from.

They also mention

"Today, most children are expected to help with household tasks, yet the level and consistency of their participation appears to vary greatly across families (Coltrane 2000)"

However, I also could not find this specific statement Coltrane 2000

This seems to be a common opinion: https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:sS1DpFftMZ0J:https://ntcutah.com/how-to-get-kids-to-do-chores/+&cd=15&hl=pt-BR&ct=clnk&gl=br, item 1, and https://www.mother.ly/child/always-let-them-help-14-other-tips-to-raise-responsible-kids, item 6. This is not peer-reviewed research, though.

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  • $\begingroup$ Refrain from answering your own question within the question. When adding citations, they should form the basis of your question. As a scientist, you know it is important to be precise. Therefore, pinpoint what an 'effective method' means to you; what is it you want to optimize? Or, are you asking for the recommended method? Or, the most common (one of your citations seems to report simply on used methods). The opinions of you and your wife only implicitely hint at two different methods. Can you make the difference explicit? Are you interested in others? $\endgroup$ – Steven Jeuris Apr 30 '20 at 15:52
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    $\begingroup$ @StevenJerius Thanks for the comments. The references I added are only to show what I have tried looking for, and are not meant to be answers to my own question. I have improved the question as you suggestes, and also refraining from using words like "better", "more effective", etc. Thanks again $\endgroup$ – Luiz Cordeiro May 1 '20 at 17:02

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