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Associations Between Household Chores and Childhood Self-Competency

White, Elizabeth M., MD*,†; DeBoer, Mark D., MD, MSc, MCR†,‡; Scharf, Rebecca J., MD, MPH*,†

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: April 2019 - Volume 40 - Issue 3 - p 176–182
doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000637
Original Articles
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Objective: The development of self-competence and self-efficacy is important to achieving academic, social, and career success. Examining whether performing chores in early elementary school contributes to later self-competence is needed.

Methods: We analyzed data from 9971 children participating in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten 2011 cohort entering kindergarten in the United States in 2010 to 2011. During kindergarten, parents reported the frequency with which their child performed chores. In the third grade, children responded to a questionnaire regarding their perceived interest or competence in academics, peer relationships, prosocial behavior, and life satisfaction. Children also completed direct academic assessments for reading, math, and science. Data were analyzed using linear and logistical regressions, adjusting for possible confounders.

Results: The frequency of chores in kindergarten was positively associated with a child's perception of social, academic, and life satisfaction competencies in the third grade, independent of sex, family income, and parent education (all P < 0.001). Compared with children who regularly performed chores, children who rarely performed chores had greater odds of scoring in the bottom quintile on self-reported prosocial, academic ability, peer relationship, and life satisfaction scores (odds ratio [OR] = 1.17, 1.25, 1.24, and 1.27, respectively). Performing chores with any frequency in kindergarten was associated with improved math scores in the third grade (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: In this longitudinal cohort study, performing chores in early elementary school was associated with later development of self-competence, prosocial behavior, and self-efficacy.

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*Department of Pediatrics, University of Virginia Children's Hospital, Charlottesville, VA;

Division of Developmental Pediatrics, University of Virginia Children's Hospital, Charlottesville, VA;

Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, University of Virginia Children's Hospital, Charlottesville, VA.

Address for reprints: Rebecca J. Scharf, MD, Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, University of Virginia School of Medicine, P.O. Box 800828, Charlottesville, VA 22908; e-mail:

Supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Clinical Scientist Development Award (R.J.S.).

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Received June 15, 2018

Accepted October 16, 2018

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