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The Importance of Chores for Teens

Some teens go off to college without knowing how to use a washing machine or make a bed. You want your teenager to be able to fend for himself when he leaves home. Teens are busy people with commitments to school, friends, jobs and extra-curricular activities, but they can also carve out time to help around the house. As a parent, you are the mentor, demonstrating how to do chores and teaching your child essential skills for his future.

Even though he may roll his eyes at the mention of chores, your teen gains benefits for life. When he completes a chore, he experiences a feeling of accomplishment, which is an integral part of his development.

Encourages Independence

"Encourage mature behavior when you see it," recommends Dr. Susan Kuczmarski, educator, anthropologist and author of the book "The Sacred Flight of the Teenager: A Parent's Guide to Stepping Back and Letting Go." Kuczmarski has done research on how teens learn social skills and become leaders. She recommends moving from a parent-to-child relationship with your teen to a person-to-person relationship. Acknowledge her strengths, says Kuczmarski. Don't simply say, "You did a good job cleaning out your closet." Say,"You must be proud of yourself for organizing your closet." When a teen knows her resources and can say positive things about herself, she'll trust her intuition, take risks and achieve goals.

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Promotes Responsibility

When a child handles tasks at home, she is better prepared to tackle eventual job responsibilities. Chores help her develop a good work ethic. She learns to stick to a task and complete it thoroughly.

"Work out a 'chores plan' together as a family," suggests Kuczmarski. Let each child choose and take total responsibility for certain chores. The chores can be periodically changed to give your teen experience with a variety of responsibilities. "The key way to teach teens to become responsible is to use the common, daily chores connected to his everyday life. In keeping with personal, household, school and social responsibilities, teens learn many valuable life lessons, including the value of hard work," says Kuczmarski.

Teaches Life Skills

There are basic skills in life that every person needs to learn in order to survive. A teen's responsibilities typically include occasional cooking, cleaning, light shopping and laundry. These survival skills help him transition smoothly to self-sufficiency. Include chores that are directly related to his strengths, such as managing a scheduling calendar or keeping electronic equipment clean.

"Give your child enough direction and control to guide him, yet enough room to let him breathe, learn and discover on his own," says Kuczmarski. There must be a balance between structure and flexibility or your child will rebel against helping at home.

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Strengthens Family Bonds

Chores are typically a family affair. This cooperative arrangement enhances social skills and causes family members to feel a responsibility to one another. A teen takes care of his own chores, such as cleaning his bedroom, but he also helps the family when he empties the dishwasher or takes out the garbage. He becomes an important part of the group when he does his part for the family unit.

When your teen completes a chore, you have the opportunity to thank and praise him. This raises his self-confidence and self-esteem and makes him feel appreciated. The accolades encourage a bond of mutual respect and caring.

Nurtures Interest in Community Service

Your teen learns that she is part of a community -- your family – when she is helping with chores at home. She then transfers that sense of sharing and responsibility to a wider scope. As a parent, you can nurture an interest in giving and reaching out to others, according to Kuczmarski. When you include chores at home, such as cleaning out a closet and bagging excess clothing for the needy, your teen realizes the positive impact she can have on others.

"When teens find ways to be of service to their friends, family, school and the larger community, they see the value of dedicating a portion of their lives to a larger purpose," notes Kuczmarski. They see that they can make a significant difference in the world.

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