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Children need to be assigned tasks

At the age of seven, expert would go grocery shopping

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Is it healthy for children to be participating in household chores? That is a question that many might ask and Dr John Mathew, a clinical psychologist based in Dubai, has an answer. He believes that it is “desperately needed”.

He told Gulf News: “It is a big engagement activity, especially for children living here. Though the children of this generation do not find it ‘cool’, but if we embed these practices quite early in life, it becomes a part of their development rather than asking them to suddenly one fine day do things when they are 11 years old.”

In his opinion, children need to be assigned chores on a daily basis and it should be treated as a part of their lifelong learning. He compares it to people learning tasks when on the job.

“The tasks would vary from when we were young due to a generational gap and difference in times,” Mathew said.

He claims that his oldest child would visit the grocery store located adjacent to his building on his own to buy things at the age of six. It was a “big tick in the box” for them. But, what tasks are appropriate for children of varying age groups?

Mathew said: “Anything from grocery shopping, using the ATM in our presence, taking care of a younger sibling while the parents are away with appropriate training on health and safety measures, helping with problem solving activities at home on electronics, mechanical stuff, being a host to guests and helping with their welcome or laying out the table can be a good start. With a lot of things becoming ‘smarter’, it is now more about seeking a shorter route to getting things done. Read this quote once: ‘Tell people the brain is an app, and they might start using it’.”

As a child, Mathew had to do household chores. At the young age of seven, he remembers going to the grocery store in his area at least twice a day with a shopping list and a little money in his hands. Such chores were made to feel like a part of his life instead of being tagged as something that he had to make an extra effort for or was not supposed to do. He believes that it played an important role in his “development, confidence, awareness and knowledge”.