During the COVID-19 outbreak, a lot of us are stuck at home having to manage work, household chores, and a bunch of energetic kids.

The good news is, by the time your kids are five or six years old, you can reasonably ask them to assume responsibility for some basic household chores. They might not be happy about it, but they should learn to complete simple housework.

Point out to them that doing so goes beyond helping you out – there are important values to pick up, even though they might not agree. Here are six reasons they should start helping out:

They’re part of the family

Allocating routine tasks develop their awareness that they’re committed members of the family, and must play their part like everyone else.

It strengthens their emotional connection with you and the siblings because it signals to them that everyone is in it together.

They have personal responsibility

They are old enough to understand that they are also responsible for what happens at home.

They must learn to care for themselves, as well as everyone else in the family.

They need self-discipline

Performing household chores requires the ability to decide when to start, how to prioritise, and so on – all of which boost self-discipline. It is a useful life skill.

They learn to bear the consequences of their actions

You can be sure that they will think twice before splashing paint all over the kitchen floor when they discover they must clear up the mess up later.

Your kids learn to care about others

Not all chores should revolve around the kids. Some will involve helping others, such as pouring a glass of lemonade for the younger sister, bringing the older brother a pencil or cleaning the home for the family’s well-being.

Chores give them an opportunity to develop natural kindness and empathy.

They should do something for nothing

Never offer your kids a reward for doing a chore – it suggests this is not part of their routine.

After all, you don’t expect a reward every time you pour them a drink or offer a biscuit.

How you can start your kids on it

Choose household chores that they will be able to manage without constant supervision, such as tidying her toys, putting their clothes in the drawers, filling a glass with juice, emptying the waste bin, returning books to the shelf, and taking empty cups back to the kitchen.

Once you have drawn up a list, sit down with them and explain what you expect of them. Remind them that they are older now and, as a result, need to do more.

Reassure them, however, that they need to do only small tasks – they shouldn’t worry about having to do everything.

Give them clear examples of what they must do, including when and how.

Give them time to adjust to their new responsibilities. For example, start with one chore a week.

When they become comfortable with that, consider extending their responsibilities gradually.

Originally published in Young Parents.