NJ parents — make your kids do chores, if you don’t want to raise a narcissist
Making your child do chores can teach them how to grow up to be responsible adults, but how you go about implementing a system is key, according to a New Jersey psychologist.
Chores can help prevent borderline, narcissistic personalities, family therapist Dr. Marty Tashman in Somerset said.
"It starts when you're younger. If everything is done for you and you’re not responsible, then you get to see the world in that way. Chores are an opportunity. It’s the chance to make a youngster responsible, and so you want to do something that’s age appropriate, and if you make a mistake you can always gear it down," Tashman said.
Having a child clean up his or her room or take out the garbage can benefit the child later in life, according to Tashman.
"So that when they grow up, not only do they make good spouses, but they see the world as a place where they have responsibility," Tashman said.
Parents can begin to introduce chores as soon as a child is old enough to understand and have conversations, but Tashman also points out it depends on the child's maturity level.
"As soon as they begin to understand to put their toys away as a place of starting, that’s a good thing," Tashman said. "If you give them a task that they have to work a little bit at, that’s not overwhelming, but gives them a sense of accomplishment. You build in that successful sense of grit, that if they have something they have to do, they finish it off, they don’t just walk away from it frustrated."
Tashman offered advice for parents on how to get children interested in doing chores.
"One of the strategies is not to tell the youngster to go do it, but to do it with them, so that it builds in a sense of community. Somebody else is not just making me work, they're doing it with me, so it must have some value," Tashman said.
Tashman also said it's important not to engage chores by offering a child money or threatening them with punishment.
"That's external. What makes chores meaningful is internal. In other words, "I'm proud of you." In other words, you get a sense it's your turn to do something," Tashman said.
Tashman gave the example of not allowing a child access to toys if he or she doesn't clean up after playing with them, and having the parent help the child put them away.
An allowance is something that can be offered for chores that go above and beyond, Tashman said.
"Allowance is something that you get as a member of the family, but there are certain things that you have to do to be privileged enough if you participate in the difficult things, then you get to participate in the positive things," said Tashman. "It teaches them some sense of initiative, but there are some basic things they should be responsible to do like cleaning up their room, like cleaning the table when they’re done eating, like helping wash the dishes as they get older, etc."
For an older child, as an alternative to offering an allowance for a bigger task such as painting a room or cleaning out an attic, Tashman suggested rewarding the child with an experience or a gift, such as concert tickets.
"The chores themselves aren’t as important as the lessons that you teach your youngster," Tashman said. He said lessons about being responsible, being part of the family and to taking pride in things being done right will be carried into adulthood.
"The job of the parent is to prepare the youngster for being a successful adult, and if you don’t make them responsible, then in life later on, they’ll think that the world owes them something rather than the secret to success is hard work," Tashman said.
Contact reporter Dianne DeOliveira at Dianne.DeOliveira@townsquaremedia.com.