Have you ever wondered when it is appropriate to start giving your child chores to do around the house? Many parents make the mistake of thinking that their children are too young to help around the house, but there are lots of age appropriate chores that you can even have your toddlers help with.
There are many different benefits of having your children perform age appropriate chores around the house. Not only does it give you some much needed help around the house, but it also has many amazing benefits for your children. Children who perform chores around the house have higher self-esteem and a stronger work ethic than children who don’t.
Chores teach children of all ages responsibility, the benefits of teamwork, and time management skills. They also learn to take pride in a job well done which will boost their self-confidence and may help them to become more independent and willing to try new things as they get older.
When talking about age appropriate chores for children it is important to remember that all children grow and develop at their own pace. This means that there may be a chore on the list for a four to five-year-old that your three-year-old can do easily or a chore listed for a six to eight-year-old that your nine-year-old isn’t ready for and that is okay. You know your child and their abilities and limitations best and you can make your chore list accordingly.
So let’s talk about some age appropriate chores that you can have your child start doing at home.
Age two to three:
You may think that your two or three-year-old is too young for chores but they aren’t. There are plenty of activities that your toddlers can help you with around the house, and they get very excited about the opportunity too.
- Pick up toys and books
- Place laundry in the hamper
- Throw away trash
- Dust with an old sock on their hands
- Wipe up messes
- Fold rags and dishcloths
- Sort toys by colour or size
Here are more ways on how to encourage independence in toddlers with everyday tasks.
Age four to five:
Four and five-year-old children are still very eager to help when it comes to doing chores around the house. They still need supervision for many of the chores that they can complete, but they love the chance to spend time with you and work on them together.
All chores listed above plus:
- Make their bed (it won’t be perfect, but they can pull the sheets and covers up)
- Water plants
- Dust baseboards
- Help set the table
- Help put away groceries
- Help match socks and fold laundry
- Help prepare meals and snacks (washing or peeling fruits and vegetables, stirring, etc.)
Allowing your four to five year old to help with the preparation of meals and snacks helps them develop a healthy foundation for their eating habits. While it may be frustrating to wait on them to finish cutting up the mushrooms, bananas, or strawberries you need for your meal it makes them feel like an important part of the process. They are also much more likely to eat food that you have prepared together. This can really come in handy if you have a picky eater in your home.
Age six to eight:
Children ages six to eight will start being able to do some chores on their own with little to no supervision, and they are often still very eager to learn how to complete new chores to help around the house. Especially if that means they get one on one time with you as they learn how to complete a new “big kid” chore.
All chores listed above plus:
- Take care of pets (filling food and water, walking, picking up waste)
- Use a small handheld vacuum
- Empty wastebaskets
- Fold the laundry
- Help prepare dinner (with mom or dad)
- Help clear and wipe down the dinner table
- Weed the garden
If you’re worried about little ones handling cleaning chemicals, why not make a non toxic homemade cleaning spray so you don’t have to worry?!
Ages 9 to 11
Children ages 9 to 11 are quite independent and should be able to perform most chores on their own or with very little supervision. They may however be less than thrilled to be asked to do them as they head into their tween years. For children ages 9 to 11, and older it may be best to have an expected list of chores that they should perform on a daily or weekly basis. This way they know exactly what is expected of them and hopefully, they will complete their chores without having to be repeatedly asked to do so.
All previous chores plus:
- Taking out the garbage
- Loading/Unloading the dishwasher
- Sorting laundry for washing
- Wiping down bathroom counters, sinks, and toilets
- Clean mirrors and windows
- Rake the leaves
- Bring in the mail
- Separate recycling
Ages 12 to 14
Children ages 12 to 14 are often busy with school and extra-curricular activities, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have to contribute to the family by completing household chores. In fact, by continuing to require children in this age group and older to complete chores you are doing them, and any roommates or partners that they might have in the future a favour. They will be more than capable of taking care of themselves and their home.
All previous chores plus:
- Help a younger sibling with their chores
- Plan and prepare simple meals for the family
- Clean the toilets
- Clean the bathtub and shower
- Cutting the grass
- Wiping down the stove and kitchen countertops
- Change the sheets on their bed
- Helping to clean out the garage
Ages 14 to 18
Children ages 14 to 18 already know how to do the majority of chores that will keep a household clean and running smoothly. This can be quite helpful for busy families who are often running around in many different directions with school, work, sports, and other obligations. No one member of the family should ever be stuck doing the majority of the chores, after all, a family is a team and keeping things running smoothly takes teamwork.
Since your 14 to 18-year-old children already know how to complete a variety of chores here are a few additional household tasks that they can learn that will be helpful to them as they prepare for adulthood.
All chores listed above plus:
- How to meal plan, make a grocery list, and prepare meals
- How to clear a clogged toilet or drain
- How to change a blown fuse
- How to pay a bill
- How to handle their own finances
One question that frequently comes up when talking about kids and chores is whether or not children should be paid to complete them. The answer to that is that it is really up to you and your family. Giving your children an allowance for completing their expected tasks each week does teach them the value of hard work, and how to be responsible for their money.
On the other hand, you are all members of the same family… a team, and you all benefit by working together to keep things clean and orderly at home. This also teaches your children about working together for a common goal, and responsibility. Deciding whether or not to pay your children for completing their chores is a highly personal decision and there is no wrong answer.
Some families choose to take a middle ground approach when it comes to chores and allowances. They do this by having some chores that their children are expected to complete for the good of the family, and the benefit of the household. These might include putting away the dishes, making the bed, wiping down the bathroom, or taking out the trash. These families may have other chores that they will allow their kids to complete to earn money. Some examples of chores that can be completed for money might be cutting the grass, raking the leaves, or helping to clean out the garage.
Deciding when or if to assign your children age appropriate chores is a personal decision, and depends on the needs and dynamics of your family, and the abilities of your children. There are many benefits of including your children in the household chores including an increased sense of personal responsibility, higher self-esteem, time management skills, and a strong work ethic. Not to mention that taking care of all of the daily household chores will no longer fall solely on one or two members of the family, instead, they will be taken care of as a team!
By teaching your child how to perform age appropriate chores around the house you are teaching them how to take care of themselves, and they will thank you for it in the future. Do you know how many children move out of their parents home and have no idea how to wash their clothes, or clean their bathtub? By allowing them to complete age appropriate chores from a young age, you are forming a foundation that they will build on for the rest of their lives. What are your thoughts, do you plan on implementing age appropriate chores for children in your home? Do you have any chores that you would add to this list?