According to new research by the University of Minnesota, parents can make a big difference to their child's development and self image by involving them in household chores. In fact, according to Emeritus Associate Professor of Family Education, Mary Rossman, by giving children as young as 3 tasks and chores around the house, we can teach them a sense of responsibility, self esteem, competence and self worth that stays with them throughout their lives. The research shows that kids who were engaged in chores at key age points; 3-4 years, 9-10 years and 15-16 years are far more likely to get off to a good start in life. They are more likely to complete their education, start a career path, have a strong relationship with family and friends and steer clear of drugs. The reason is they learn and live life values at a young age that they will find valuable and important in later life. However, there is a word of caution, as the research suggests that introducing chores to teenagers with no prior involvement in such activities can have the opposite affect and the whole thing can backfire. How the tasks are presented is imported. They shouldn't be overwhelming, but they should be age appropriate, agreed by the whole family (including the kids) and they should match the learning style of the child. Rewards for completing the tasks and doing them well and consequences for poor or non completion should also be agreed, thus setting rules and expectations in advance. Now I realise introducing chores to a young child is not without difficulty, but with such conclusive evidence of the positive impact it will have, it is worth persevering both in getting them doing the tasks and in them getting them to do them properly. But dads, unfortunately it doesn't mean you can sit in the garden with a glass of beer whilst your kids mow the lawn and wash the car. That's just setting a bad example!