Posted on August 1, 2017 by CHS
In order for a child to mature into a successful, independent adult, it is important to help him develop good habits at an early age. One way to teach children about responsibility and how to be self-sufficient is to have them help with household chores. According to Sheila Seifert, a writer for Focus on the Family, chores are defined as “ongoing tasks that benefit the household.”
Every child acquires skills and matures at their own pace. This should be taken into consideration when it comes to assigning chores. As your child grows older, you can change or add on chores that you believe he will be able to handle. Begin by explaining to your child that it is important for families to help each other, and that everyone in the family can take care of the home. Hold a family meeting where you make a list of chores and divide them up between everyone. This will show your child that everyone has a job. It will also teach him that working together as a group involves listening to each other and negotiating.
Summer is the perfect time to start implementing a family chore schedule in your household. Make sure you do each chore with your child in the beginning so that you can model how it should be done. Below are lists of chores for children in specific age range.
Ages 2 and 3
While many parents shy away from assigning toddlers chores for fear that it will actually create more work than be helpful, this may be the best time to get children involved in helping around the house. According to Sarah Aguirre, a writer for the Spruce, many toddlers love seeing a visual representation of their achievements. Using a sticker chart is a convenient and effective way to engage and encourage your toddler. Most of the chores for toddlers are going to require your assistance, as toddlers have not fully developed the motor function they need to complete tasks on their own. Make sure to give them plenty of encouragement along the way. Some chores for toddlers can include:
- Putting books and toys back into baskets/boxes.
- Placing dirty clothes into the laundry basket.
- Wiping messy areas after eating or spilling.
Ages 4 and 5
Preschool age children are usually enthusiastic about helping out around the house and they love spending time with adults. You can continue to use a sticker chart, but add in a rule that your child can receive an award after earning a certain amount of stickers. It will motivate him even more. You can also teach your preschooler new chores as children this age love learning new things. Some appropriate chores for preschoolers include:
- Same chores as above.
- Setting the table for meals and clearing it afterward.
- Carrying lighter groceries from the car.
- Helping you prepare food.
- Matching socks while you’re folding laundry.
Age 6 – 8
Many children at this age are less willing to do chores. They begin to want more independence from their parents and to do things on their own. Write chores on a chart for your child so that she may do them on her own. Give her compliments whenever she completes a task to keep her motivated. The following are ideas for chores:
- All chores from above.
- Taking out the trash.
- Folding and putting laundry away.
- Putting clean dishes away.
- Feeding and caring for pets.
Ages 9 – 12
Children in this age group like consistent schedules and open communication. Work with your child to create a chore schedule. Include dates or times that tasks should be completed. This way, he knows what is expected of him. If you add in unexpected chores, he will likely resist. Negotiate with your child and figure out a system that works for your family. As before, add rewards and consequences to your plan. Consider the following chores:
- Helping you wash the car.
- Learning how to wash dishes and put them away.
- Cleaning various rooms around the house.
- Learning how to make simple meals without supervision.
- Raking leaves.
- Learning how to use the washer and dryer to do laundry.
Ages 13 – 18
Teenagers are generally mature enough to handle any household chores they have been taught to do. Like many adults, teenagers are very busy with school, clubs, and other extracurricular activities. To avoid your teenager feeling too overwhelmed, adjust the chores around her schedule. Discuss the following ideas for chores with her:
- Replacing light bulbs and vacuum cleaner bags.
- All parts of laundry duties mentioned above.
- Cleaning and wiping both windows and tables around the house.
- Preparing a complete meal with a grocery list she made.
- Babysitting younger siblings.
- Cleaning out the fridge and other household appliances thoroughly.
Although the chores listed above are meant to be age-appropriate, remember that all children mature at different rates. Some older children might have a harder time doing basic chores, while some younger children might pick up more advanced chores easily. As parents, you understand your child best, so trust your judgement.
Children of all ages have a life outside of their chores, and the most important responsibility is being a good student. Make sure that your child has time to do her homework, even if it means relieving her of some of the chores. Don’t forget that everyone, especially children, needs some downtime. Doing chores will teach your child that she is part of a community. The whole purpose of a community is to give each other support. If you see your child is overloaded with work, hold a family meeting to re-distribute chores.
Below are additional resources for more tips and ideas on age-appropriate chores.
- Age Appropriate Chore Charts for Kids: https://www.thespruce.com/age-appropriate-chore-charts-1900357
- Age Appropriate Chores: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/parenting-challenges/motivating-kids-to-clean-up/age-appropriate-chores
- Motivating Children to Clean Up: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/parenting-challenges/motivating-kids-to-clean-up/motivating-kids-to-clean-up
- 12 Tips for Using Chore Charts: https://www.thespruce.com/chore-chart-tips-1900575
- Chores and Responsibility: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/communication-discipline/Pages/Chores-and-Responsibility.aspx
- Household Chores for Adolescents: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/Pages/Household-Chores-for-Adolescents.aspx
- How to Have a Family Meeting: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/Pages/How-to-Have-a-Family-Meeting.aspx
- Allowance Basics: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/allowance.html?WT.ac=ctg#catfamily