put them to work

A Pediatrician Shares His No. 1 Secret To Raising Healthy, Happy Kids

The father of five swears by this simple, research-based tip.

Originally Published: 
A pediatrician shares his favorite evidence-based tip for raising happy, healthy, and successful kid...
TikTok / Tiktok Kid Doc

If you’re not asking yourself daily (hourly?) if you’re doing this whole “parenting” thing right, then are you even a parent? The constant questioning, self doubt, and search for sound, evidence-based advice is just part of this whole raising humans thing — and it’s not easy to get it “right.”

Nevertheless, all any parent wants is to raise a well-adjusted, happy kid. One pediatrician may have found one super easy (and research-backed) way to make that happen.

Dr. Williams is a board-certified pediatrician based in Utah also known as @tiktokkiddoc on TikTok. The father of five posts videos pertaining to children's health and parenting, hoping to help out some parents looking for advice.

In a recent video — now viewed almost 1 million times — Williams shares his “unexpected secret” to raising happy, healthy kids who will later become successful adults.

So, what does Williams (and researchers) swear by when it comes to happy humans? Assigning your kid some household chores.

“Having your child do chores gives them a sense of self worth,” Williams explains in the video. “It helps them to realize they’re contributing to a larger ecosystem. They become more selfless. They become more willing and able to see the needs of other people around them.”

He also notes that assigning your child some tasks around the house will strengthen the overall family bond as well as instill a great foundation when it comes to work ethic, “which translates pretty well into school and career success.”

So you’re saying you can be a better parent and get the litter box cleaned by someone else? Sounds good.

While there is so much research-based evidence to back up this advice, Williams notes that only 28% of parents are actually assigning their kids chores regularly.

“Hand that kid a toilet brush, and watch the college scholarships roll in,” Williams jokes.

And while Williams is obviously speaking in hyperbole, there is some semblance of truth to his joke.

In the findings of an 85-year-old study from researchers at Harvard University, people who did more chores at a younger age often had more professional success and happiness later in life.

Formerly called the Grant study, the Harvard Study of Adult Development at Massachusetts General Hospital is the longest longitudinal study in history, Dr. Robert Waldinger, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the study, told TODAY.com.

Researchers have followed a group of men since the late 1930s — one-third bring Harvard grads and two-thirds from the inner city of Boston. They wanted to understand which aspects of childhood can predict health and success in adulthood.

“What they were looking at is how did these kids stay out of trouble and stay on good developmental paths,” Waldinger said, adding that in the evaluations of subjects’ homes, researchers looked at if the kids participated in chores regularly.

“It gives children a sense of community, so you are pitching into the family because your participation matters,” said Waldinger. “We know concern for others and focus beyond the self are good developmental principles, and that the people who are more self-centered are usually less happy.”

Parents starting from square one with encouraging their kids to help around the house may want to take a note from Williams’ book who even has his five-year-old get in on the chore fun.

“Our house is in a constant state of controlled chaos, but every child has chores, from our 14-year-old to our 5-year-old,” Williams explained. The kids pick up their own bedrooms and shared bathrooms, he explained, plus one inside chore and one outside chore every day.

“Once they check off all those things, the rest of the day is theirs,” he added.

Williams also went on to explain that the chores are less about doing things “right” and more about the effort and willingness the kids put into the task.

“It’s definitely not perfect. There are still weeds and an entire pepper plant went missing once, but I care a lot more about raising kids than I do raising vegetables,” Williams said.

For those reading this in horror, ready to comment, “Let kids be kids!” — just hold on for one second.

Williams knows that there may be some parents who do not agree with this tip because they feel their child is too busy or should be focusing on school or sports.

“We don't want to overload kids,” he said.

However, Williams stands by his video, reiterating that every kid (starting pretty young) should help around the house with at least some chores even if they are super simple tasks.

He also recognizes that for some parents, chores are a huge point of contention, so the point of avoiding the topic to keep the peace. Williams encourages parents to keep working at it and keep trying to encourage their kids to pitch in.

“...we're all just doing the best we can,” Williams said.

Alright, time to go get the chore chart laminated!

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