Having children to do household chores can have more benefits than helping to keep the house tidy. According to a study, it can also help the development of executive functions in children.
In many households, family members each have their own daily chores, and even children have their own chores. Previous studies have shown that age-appropriate household chores can help children feel a sense of autonomy, study authors say published in Australian occupational therapy. It has also been linked to “enhanced prosocial behaviors and greater life satisfaction.”
“The purported relationship between engagement in household chores and child cognitive development, particularly executive functioning, is of emerging interest,” the researchers wrote.
Executive functioning is the term used to describe cognitive processes related to goal-directed behavior and self-regulation, the researchers explained. These include functions such as working memory, planning, memorizing instructions and switching between tasks, La Trobe University Noted in a press release. These are said to develop during infancy and continue into early adulthood, although this may vary depending on culture and upbringing.
“Although there is evidence to suggest that engagement in household chores is associated with maintaining executive functions in older adults, few studies have explored this relationship in children, for whom these skills are still developing” , the researchers explained.
For their work, the researchers conducted a survey of 207 parents and guardians of children between the ages of 5 and 13. They completed questionnaires regarding their children’s household chores and executive functioning. The researchers’ hypothesis was that engaging in household chores would have better inhibition and working memory.
Indeed, they found that household chores (preparing a meal for oneself) or household chores (preparing a meal for someone else) “significantly predicted” inhibition and working memory.
This suggests that tasks can aid in the development of executive functioning because they require the individual to plan, switch between tasks, self-regulate and maintain attention, the researchers noted. This is especially important because problems with executive functioning can lead to difficulties later on.
“Impairments or delays in the development of executive functions can lead to difficulties in the ability to self-regulate, plan, and problem-solve in adulthood, with implications for reading performance later in life. and math, as well as predicting overall academic achievement later in childhood,” study leader Deanna Tepper, La Trobe University, said in the press release.
Thus, age-appropriate household chores can help develop these important functions. In addition to having such tasks at home, this can also be developed through interventions such as school cooking programs, the researchers said.
“Children who cook a family meal or regularly weed the garden may be more likely to excel in other aspects of life, such as schoolwork or problem solving,” Tepper said.
For now, the researchers recommend further research into the matter.