(NC) The “chore gap” that sees children doing fewer household chores than their parents may be negatively affecting their social development, according to Alyson Schafer, therapist and parenting expert. She points to a recent survey conducted by Whirlpool Canada where 59 per cent of adults said children today spend less time doing chores than they did when they were kids as evidence of this trend.

But Schafer believes that household tasks teach youngsters valuable life skills. “These contributions make children feel valued and help them build skills for when they set up their own home,” she explains.

Experts suggest that if parents assign kids age-appropriate tasks early, helping out becomes a normal part of family life. Because older children tend to do better with chores that aren’t time-sensitive, they can do the dusting or vacuuming rather than something like setting the table.

Children like to have some sense of control, so Schafer suggests letting kids pick from a list of jobs. Parents can also let a child’s natural interest guide which tasks they take on; the budding chef, for example, can help with dinner and meal prep.

While a little elbow grease is good for kids, new technologies make it easier than ever for them to help. For example, the Load & Go bulk dispenser on some Whirlpool washing machines holds detergent for multiple loads and automatically dispenses the correct amount of detergent based on the load and cycle. Parents don’t have to worry about spills and messes — just stuff those clothes in and hit a button, something any kid can manage.

So next time you’re inclined to let your children skip chores, remember that insisting the work get done can be another way of showing them how much you care.

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