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10 Bad Parenting Habits

Acting Like a Servant

Since the goal of child-rearing is to grow them up and move them out, it's counterintuitive to spare them chores. Kids need responsibilities to feel mature and part of the family, as well as to develop the skills they'll need for living on their own.

Parents, however, get used to doing everything for our sons and daughters when we bring them home as infants. Sometimes it's hard to break that habit. By the time kids reach their teens, parents can feel overwhelmed, frustrated and resentful toward children who don't do anything for themselves. For some parents, that's what it takes to make us see that our kids are capable of doing much more for themselves.

In fact, even preschool boys and girls can be trusted with small tasks such as folding washcloths or placing utensils and napkins on the table before meals. Parents shouldn't feel guilty about requiring kids to do chores; they give children a feeling of responsibility and help build their self-esteem. Regularly handling routine duties makes kids feel like they have an important place in the family. Chores also teach them how to work as part of a group, a skill that will be useful when they start school.

Using a chore chart keeps job responsibilities visible to children and eliminates the "I forgot" excuse. If resistance becomes a chronic issue or a child refuses to do his tasks altogether, calmly explain that everyone in the household is expected to share the work. Follow up by explaining that certain privileges depend on doing chores correctly and in a timely manner. Be specific about what items or activities you'll take away if your kid doesn't complete assigned duties, and make sure that you're willing and able to follow through. If your son or daughter still refuses to pitch in, don't make a fuss. Calmly remove the specified privilege and explain that it will be returned when he or she regains his or her household work ethic.

Chores aren't punishment. They give children a sense of belonging and worth, and they teach skills that will help kids enter the world of independence with confidence.