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Kids & chores & pets
I don’t know how many kid-subscribers there are at Understandably.com. So let’s keep today’s newsletter among the adults:
If you want kids to grow up to become successful adults, science suggests one of the key things you can do is to insist that they do chores.
Writing recently in the peer-reviewed Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, researchers from La Trobe University set out to determine whether children who do household chores develop better working memory, inhibition, and other functions that predict success as they grow more mature.
They broke the chores into three categories:
self-care (example: making their own meals),
other-care (example: making meals for other people), and
pet-care (as it sounds, taking care of family pets).
Then, they interviewed more than 200 parents of children aged 5 to 13, asking what chores they require their children to do, along with questions designed to evaluate the children's executive functioning.
The results? Well, we went two-for-three.
Indeed, children who were required to do self-care and other-care chores were in fact more likely to exhibit better academic performances and problem solving skills.
However, there was no significant correlation found for pet-care chores.
We'll get back to that last, somewhat surprising finding about pet-care chores shortly. But, let's put this study in context.
As the Australian researchers explain, there's a long line of studies suggesting positive benefits for kids who do chores, beyond the practical ones (like, living in a clean house, for example, and having the dishes washed and the laundry done).
Previous studies have found that requiring chores is associated with increased feelings of autonomy, and greater life satisfaction.
Also, in the Harvard Grant Study, the longest running longitudinal study in history, researchers identified two key things that enable adults to be happy and successful:
Second, work ethic.
How does one develop work ethic as a child? The consensus was that "having done chores as a kid" was a significant predictor.
"The earlier you started, the better," explained Julie Lythcott-Haims, the former dean of freshmen at Stanford University, in a TED Talk about the study. "A roll-up-your-sleeves- and-pitch-in mindset, a mindset that says, there's some unpleasant work, someone's got to do it, it might as well be me ... that's what gets you ahead in the workplace."
OK, back to the Australian contribution, and the "unexpected" exception, in the researchers' phrasing, that pet-care chores were not associated with greater executive function while other types of chores were.
There are at least two possible explanations.
First, there's the idea that pet chores—things like taking a pet for a walk, or filling its food or water bowl—simply "are not complex or challenging enough to aid in the development of executive functioning, compared with chores like cooking."
Second, I'll add a theory of my own: For pet-loving kids, taking care of a pet just doesn't feel like the same kind of a chore. Sure, it's a responsibility, and requires a schedule, but it can be a lot more rewarding to play with a dog than to do the dishes or clean their room.
I'll leave it to you whether to exclude pet chores from the list, because the dog needs a walk whether it's associated with improved executive functioning or not.
The rest of this—let’s keep it among us adults, please.
7 other things worth knowing today
The vivid and troubling online history of the alleged Highland Park 4th of July mass murderer, who was a rapper and had a following on YouTube and Discord. This seems plausible and worthy of inquiry, but basically the idea is that while we think of these killers as "lone wolves," they’re actually "tied [online] to a much larger cell of people who think they are loners but who are acting in concert to express their disaffection with the world by murdering a bunch of people." It's somehow more terrifying if you think of it that way. (Mediate)
America is in Denial: an essay by Mitt Romney. "What accounts for the blithe dismissal of potentially cataclysmic threats? The left thinks the right is at fault for ignoring climate change and the attacks on our political system. The right thinks the left is the problem for ignoring illegal immigration and the national debt. But wishful thinking happens across the political spectrum. More and more, we are a nation in denial." (The Atlantic)
By the way, that was apparently the 309th mass shooting in the U.S. this year, according to a nonprofit that tracks gunfire incidents. (New York Daily News)
Americans are less confident in major U.S. institutions than they were a year ago, with significant declines for 11 of the 16 institutions tested and no improvements for any. This year's poll marks new lows in confidence for all three branches of the federal government—the Supreme Court (25%), the presidency (23%) and Congress. Five other institutions are at their lowest points in at least three decades of measurement, including the church or organized religion (31%), newspapers (16%), the criminal justice system (14%), big business (14%) and the police. (Biggest declines: 11 points for the Supreme Court, and 15 points for the presidency.) (Gallup)
Chick-fil-A has maintained its position as America’s favorite restaurant for eight years in a row, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). That’s in spite of the fact that overall, consumers prefer full-service restaurants over fast food. (Fox5NY)
An unnamed Chilean worker resigned and became uncontactable after he was paid approximately 330 times his salary due to a payroll blunder, according to a report. His monthly paycheck was for 165,398,851 Chilean pesos ($180,418); he was actually owed 500,000 Chilean pesos ($545). Now he's gone. (Business Insider)
A Florida man with a self-stated “pending application” for Walt Disney World Security is being accused of stealing and tampering with Disney resort property, including a Star Wars R2-D2 statue worth up to $10,000. (Orlando Sentinel)
Thanks for reading. Photo via Unsplash. I wrote about some of this at Inc.com. Want to see all my mistakes? Click here.
It doesn't take a nation wide study to realize that kids that have had some discipline instilled in them at an early age will have a better work ethic when they're older. I'm of the belief that kids are more committed to accomplishing something when they have some skin in the game. Or at least that's how it was in my family.
I don't know about you, but I think I've become weirdly desensitized to gun violence coverage. Not the actual mass murders themselves; those remain truly shocking and horrifying in the moment, but the coverage afterwards.
Today's blurb about there having been 309 mass shootings this year had me thinking sure, but that's 4 or more shot OR killed, not 4 or more shot AND killed. When everything's a mass shooting, I thought to myself, nothing is. Let's get real and winnow the field a bit and be more judicious with our definitions.
But then I gave my head a shake. This isn't a word exercise. 309 incidents with 4 or more people being shot, dead or not, is actually nonsensical and horrifying. The scale of the tragedy, sorrow, fear and loss that represents is more than most people can bear to think about, I think. And so maybe we just don't any more.