Age-Appropriate Chores for Kids
Even though most people don’t enjoy chores, they’re a reality we have to face. And households with children seem to have twice as many chores as families without kids. So naturally, parents want to involve their children in housework, providing them of course, with age-appropriate chores.
However, it’s not just about dividing up the workload for the parents’ sake. (After all, sometimes it’s easier to just do it yourself, right?) Rest assured, when you assign tasks to your children, the immediate benefits will be far outweighed by the long-term life lessons they’ll get in return.
What are the benefits of assigning age-appropriate chores to kids, and what are some examples of age-appropriate chores? We’ll dive into all this and more.
Benefits of Assigning Chores to Kids
Chores provide many lifelong benefits for kids! Even if your rebellious child insists otherwise, kids need to do chores. Through these daily or weekly tasks, children get the chance to learn about self-care, home maintenance, and family care. Creating and maintaining a chore routine helps kids develop life skills they’ll use as adults, including cleaning, organizing, cooking, and gardening.
Beyond the practical benefits, helping with chores allows kids to practice interpersonal skills, including effective communication, negotiation, cooperation, and teamwork. Furthermore, they develop a sense of self-worth and responsibility when they make meaningful contributions to family life.
It’s crucial to incorporate age-appropriate chores in order for children to learn responsibility at a young age. And hey, extra bonus for the reduced parental stress once they are trained, right? Don’t feel guilty – they’ll thank you one day!
Wait, Are Chores Really Appropriate for Kids?
Some parents may wonder whether or not giving their children household responsibilities is appropriate. “Shouldn’t the adults be in charge of running the household? Children have their whole lives to worry about chores; why not give them a chance to enjoy being children right now?”
Most kids also have a lot going on. From school to sports, dance, and other afterschool activities, when will they have the time to do things that need to be done around the house?
While these arguments hold some validity, keep in mind we’re not suggesting that you overwhelm your child with a Cinderella-esque list of tasks. Let them go to the ball, just make sure they’ve fed the animals first.
When assessing your overall household task list, remember, of course, that some chores are best left to the grownups. Modify your expectations for your family accordingly.
Furthermore, don’t use chores as a punishment; rather, refer to them as an investment in your child’s future ability to thrive on their own.
When you’re hit with pushback – and trust us, there will be some pushback – just remember to stay firm and consistent. Encourage yourself by remembering that by assigning chores to your child, you’re giving them a great gift. Self-sufficiency can be tough to teach, but you’re on the right track by even reading this blog in the first place. (Give yourself a pat on the back!)
Tips for Assigning Chores to Your Kids
Now you know what to expect from your children at any given age, regarding age-appropriate chores in the household. But, how can you ensure that this pipedream will come to fruition?
Kids and grownups dislike chores because they’re boring. Most kids aren’t mature enough to know that if they work fast and finish their chores, they’ll be able to go back to having fun. Talk your child through this thought process and teach them that efficiency is their friend.
If you want to get things done around the house, you need a plan. The best way to ensure your children participate in household chores is to invite them into the planning process. Come up with your list of goals and guidelines together, and allow the kids to keep the parents accountable, too. Create policies to reinforce structure; for example, no screen time until chores and homework are done.
Involve Your Child(ren)
Does your child have a valid justification for choosing a particular time or day of the week to clean the bathrooms? Making your child feel like their opinion matters—which it does—requires listening to what they have to say and truly giving it some thought.
If you want your kid to really understand that chores are a fact of life, then they can’t see them as punishments. They will feel more empowered and accountable to perform their tasks if you involve them in the decision-making process.
Personalities differ considerably, but one approach to alleviate a stubborn phase is to involve them in creating chore charts. Chore charts are lists families use to track their household chores. A child’s participation in making these charts gives them a sense of agency and makes them more likely to follow the rules. Be sure to include your own chores in the chart, too. This is a great visual reminder of equity and teamwork in the family.
To make your chore chart, start by writing down all the tasks that need to be done, and then allowing each member of the family to choose a chore to take on as their own. When the least desired chores are left, you can draw straws or roll dice to decide. Discuss as a family whether chores should rotate on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Reevaluate whenever it’s needed.
Use a Reward System
Did your child do an exceptionally good job? Let them know! Better yet, reward them with something that they like. While performing our daily tasks is something we must do regardless of incentives, you may let your child know that their effort and attitude are appreciated; it will be motivating for everyone involved.
A sticker chart could be great for little kiddos as well as older ones, too. Heck, it might be incentivizing for adults as well! You could make this individually based, or work towards a common goal. Pizza party, anyone?!
As kids get older and perhaps take on jobs outside the home, you might consider adding additional and/or optional chores – with financial incentives. This works especially well if you have multiple able-bodied tweens and teens. For example, if the lawn needs to be mowed in the next 48 hours, it’s first-come, first-serve, and the lucky winner will receive cash upon completion. This approach works well with babysitting opportunities as well. Your older teen will be more inclined to watch over their younger sibling if they feel their time and effort are valued. This helps avoid resentment and instead builds confidence and empowerment.
List of Chores Appropriate by Age
Now that you know the benefits of providing your child with age-appropriate chores, let’s get into what they can do according to their age.
Toddler Chores (Ages 2-4)
Generally speaking, toddlers love helping their parents or caretakers. It makes them feel grown up. At this life stage, children learn by example—they will copy the actions of the adults around them. Use this stage to establish a sense of responsibility in your child.
Toddlers need to be guided and should always be under supervision. The following is a list of what they can do, with your help and encouragement:
- Put away toys, crayons, papers, books, and other supplies
- Wipe spills
- Help load and unload the dishes and laundry
- Rinse dishes
- Throw items in the trash
- Put clothes in the hamper
- Feed pets
- Help set the table
- Water flowers and potted plants
Your toddler may want to help with other chores, too, such as sweeping or mopping. At this stage, their “help” may seem like an extra burden rather than true assistance. However, by allowing them to participate, you’re rewarding their giving nature and setting the stage for the future. When they feel helpful and included, they’ll create a positive association with doing chores and will be less likely to put up a fight when they’re older. Plant the seed! Your future self will thank you!
Chores for Elementary Kids (Ages 5-8)
Children in elementary school can accomplish all the chores they did as toddlers, only now with limited supervision. With better-developed fine and gross motor skills, they’re now able to do things a bit more efficiently. At this point, you’ll see that it won’t be necessary to give your child as many instructions as you did when they were a toddler.
- Help prepare meals
- Pack lunch
- Set and clear the table
- Rinse dishes or load and unload the dishwasher
- Dust and wipe surfaces
- Sweep floors
- Water the garden or plants
- Pull weeds
- Put away groceries
- Make the bed
- Sort laundry, fold, and put away laundry
There’s no guarantee that your kiddos will like doing chores at any point, but at least they will come a little more naturally for them as they get into their tween and teen years. Just keep encouraging them and try to make it fun, however possible. (Cleaning dance party, anyone?)
Older Elementary (Ages 9-11)
At this stage, children can start learning how to do more challenging chores. However, at this age, they may begin to fight against chores. This is normal; they are developing a stronger sense of self and independence. So they’re rebelling against orders. See the tips in the section above under, “Involve Your Child”.
Here are some additional chores your older child may be ready to do:
- Mop the floor
- Do the dishes (start to finish, on their own)
- Prepare snacks or breakfast
- Clean their bedrooms
- Tidy up the living room
- Walk the dog
- Rake leaves
- Empty trash bins
- Take out the trash
Middle School (Ages 12-14)
Students in middle school are mature enough to handle most responsibilities without frequent supervision. This age is perfect for teaching children how to be reliable and take care of themselves while no one is looking. All the things they did when they were younger, plus a lot more, are possible for them now:
- Wash family car
- Clean the kitchen
- Clean the toilet
- Prepare meals
- Do laundry
- Babysit younger siblings
- Bathe dog
- Mow the lawn
High School Kids (Ages 14+)
High schoolers can do almost every household chore that adults can do. At this age, you can help ensure that your teen will be ready to live independently when the time comes.
- Clean the fridge
- Deep-clean the kitchen
- Deep-clean bathroom
- Clean windows
- Care for pets
- Cook meals (start to finish)
- Go grocery shopping
- Iron clothes
- Help around with simple home or auto repairs
What To Avoid When Assigning Chores
Every child is different, and there isn’t a clear set of things to avoid before giving them chores. That being said, you should ensure that your child can complete the tasks you give them and that they have adequate time to do so. Additionally, you’ll want to avoid a lack of clarity and inconsistency.
Not Being Clear
For kids to do their chores, they need to know what they are and why they’re important. “Because I said so” isn’t enough of an answer (unless perhaps you’ve already explained yourself a dozen times).
- “We need to clean the floors so that dirt and leftover food isn’t tracked all over the house.”
- “We need to do the dishes after each meal so they’re ready when it’s time to cook/eat again.”
- “We need to tidy the living room so we can actually enjoy our home and not get distracted by all the clutter.”
Also, make it clear what constitutes a job well done. What must be done for the task to be regarded as finished? If kids aren’t sure what to do, they’ll be more likely to avoid it altogether.
It’s best to demonstrate the chore, then help them do it, then watch them conquer it, and finally, perform a good ol’ quality inspection each time they do it, and intermittently thereafter.
Consistency is crucial. So, think carefully before letting your kid off the hook too easily. In order to teach your child the value of reliability and responsibility, you yourself have to be reliable and stable with following through. Maintaining a regular schedule will help chores become second nature and instill lifelong habits.
Being Impatient or Unsupportive
It may take several years before your child is able to complete a task to the same level of detail that you’d expect from yourself. That’s ok! This is how your child will learn – practice makes perfect. When providing feedback, always give it in a compliment sandwich. For example, “I like how you organized this! Make sure to separate these items next time though. Wow, it looks so much better – thank you!”
Help Your Child Achieve Self-Sufficiency and Independence
In addition to relieving some of your stress, there are other reasons to have your children help out around the house. Chores will teach your child many of the skills they’ll need in order to be self-sufficient adults. So, start today! You can begin implementing simple tasks right after they take their first steps, or perhaps even before that.
You want all the best for your kids, so why not supplement their at-home education with a top-notch learning program? We at Kiddi Kollege are committed to providing your child with a solid foundation for future success through our early childhood education centers in Kansas City. Children thrive in our nurturing and positive setting, where they are free to explore and discover at their own pace. Schedule a tour today!