Cleaning, cleaning windows, sorting laundry: what factors influence children’s success later in life

Cleans up, polishes windows, sorts laundry. Are these duties only for adults? Far from it: A long-term study from Harvard University has shown that household chores turn children into successful adults later on. Here are the key insights.


Household chores are life lessons

The long-term “Harvard Grant Study,” which began in 1938, is making parents sit up and take notice. Because the study shows that children grow up later team player and also non-profit, if they are given duties to do around the house from an early age. So they get a chance healthy work ethic to develop. This can be useful later in professional and private life. The reverse could therefore apply: If you don’t have to put your socks away or put your plate in the dishwasher, you learn that others are already doing these tasks. Goodbye, self-responsibility!

Or not? It’s fair to say that opinion is divided here. Social educator Armin Krenz from the Kiel Institute for Applied Psychology and Education is of the opinion that play in childhood is not a “gimmick” but a kind of main job for the child. Playing is therefore important to succeed later in your career. And not necessarily an antithesis to household chores if they are designed to be age-appropriate.

Ergo: On the one hand, it is important that children are allowed to be children – free, silly, without parental responsibility. In return, they learn through assignments that they take responsibility and what it means to be independent and part of a community. Both are good preparation for later professional life.

Valuable for children: A sense of community strengthens self-confidence and gives satisfaction

According to the Harvard Study Board, chores for children are real-life lessons. Basically, it will be about these children learning at an early age to be members of a community and to be useful for the common good. Later it leads to more success in life, for example at work.

Additional studies support the survey’s findings, including those by sociologist Jürgen Schupp. For about 35 years, the scientist and happiness researcher has been studying how satisfied people in Germany are. In the long-term study by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), he found that the community plays an important role.


According to the research, we would feel particularly satisfied when it came to serving a community – and this factor would be even more important than, for example, receiving a financial promotion at work. It can also be concluded that children who develop a sense of community early on feel a greater sense of satisfaction.

5 tips: What supports children – and what doesn’t

As a parent, you can ask yourself: How do I do it right? The fact is that we want our offspring to succeed in life. And if you don’t have children yet, it’s never too early to think about your own parenting style to give your offspring important help with work and private life. Here are some valuable tips:

1. Find an age-appropriate task

In order for children not to feel overwhelmed, household tasks should be age-appropriate. It is therefore useful to first carry out tasks together and see how it reacts in particular situations: Is it easily tired, helpless, confused? This can be a sign of being overwhelmed. Parents should therefore be aware of their children’s needs and limits, so that they do not develop fear of presumed mammoth tasks in later professional life.

2. Be careful, chores are not a punishment

Anyone who burdens their child with tasks such as pressure or punishment after a bad grade in school or “failure” risks harming their child. Individual psychological advisor Dr. Sabine Scherz makes it clear that punishment can suppress unwanted behavior. However, the child does not get the chance to learn an alternative behavior. There is therefore a risk of relapse. Better: Tasks should be based on the principle of voluntariness, so that children evaluate them positively and remember them.


3. Patience is top priority

It is a devastating feeling for children when they realize they are not “good enough”. Pressure to perform is counterproductive. Therefore, patience is key. If a task is not successful the first time, parents should show pride and clearly acknowledge that the child tried – and a second, third or fourth attempt is okay.

4. Do not perform any psychic control

When a child is allowed to complete a task, they take great pride in doing it on their own. Parents encourage the child’s independence by allowing this to happen. This means that the child can sometimes manage a task without help. Without interference. Even if your fingers tingle, adults should keep their hands to themselves. Not just the hands, but any kind of psychological control. Don’t make them feel bad, don’t put pressure on them and don’t punish them verbally.

5. To praise the child

After completing a task, every child (and every adult) longs for recognition and appreciation. We can and must also and above all thank children for what they achieve. This not only strengthens the sense of community, but also the child’s self-confidence.

But: Nevertheless, parents should be careful not only to praise the child for his achievements, but at the same time convey that he is loved for who he is. Otherwise, children define love over achievement – ​​and that is notorious nonsense.


Other factors that influence children’s success later in life

The only guarantee of success in life cannot simply be clearing the table or weeding at a young age. If you want your child to be successful, you should realize that it all starts much earlier.

A long-term study from the University of Minnesota, which started in 1975, shows that children especially in their first year of life needs attention. Only then would they be able to experience success later in their professional lives. According to the study, this also applies to privacy, i.e. their relationship.

At the same time, parents should not put any pressure on themselves if something does not go perfectly. Anyone who is overtired, struggling through everyday life and then still “plays” happy to find time for the child, is denying the child a valuable opportunity. Namely: to learn it Packaging okay too is – and later even belongs to professional success.

Conclusion: The quality of the early parent-child bond has a significant impact on the child’s lifestyle. While this is not a new insight, it is a valuable one that we should remember to pave the way for our children to a happy and successful life. Besides: Children can take responsibility from an early age and learn lessons for their later professional lives. However, it is important not to overwhelm the child. It carries no parental responsibility – and it is allowed to be a child before adulthood begins.

Photo credit: Miljan Živkovi?/


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