Age Appropriate Chores For Kids
Hate the chore wars just as much as your kids do?
Here’s how to assign them responsibilities that are appropriate for their age and make sure they get them done…
If you’ve ever battled with your children over chores, you probably assume that they hate them just as much as homework and Brussels sprouts. But according to parenting experts, children can learn to value their chores (if not enjoy them) because they make them feel needed and like they’re making a positive contribution to the family. Chores also help to teach kids responsibility, organization, life skills and a strong work ethic.
By the time they start school, kids should have a list of personal and family chores that they need to accomplish every day or week. A family chore chart that outlines each family member’s responsibilities can be a great visual reminder.
Should your child be rewarded for doing chores?
Most parenting experts agree that children shouldn’t receive an allowance for doing their regular chores. This is especially true for young children because they don’t understand the value of money yet and may simply choose to shirk their responsibilities. The purpose of chores is to teach them basic life skills and a sense of responsibility.
Some parents swap chores for screen time. Others offer a cash incentive to older children for doing extra chores such as mowing the lawn or washing the car. These methods are fine once your children have learned that they’re expected to carry out certain household tasks without any form of reward.
Examples of age-appropriate chores
Your child may be capable of doing a lot more than you think! Here are some general guidelines on the types of chores your child should be able to accomplish from four to nine years old. They should continue to perform chores from earlier stages and add on the new ones as they get older.
- Make their bed
- Brush their teeth (with supervision when younger)
- Brush their hair
- Get dressed
- Pick up their toys
- Wash their hands
- Fix easy snacks
- Put their dirty clothes in the hamper
- Set and clear the table with supervision
- Feed the pets
- Water the plants
- Weed the garden
- Empty wastebaskets
- Bring in the mail
- Wash, dry and put away some dishes
- Help carry higher groceries
- Choose their outfits and get dressed
- Tidy their bedroom
- Fold and put away their clothes
- Sweep, vacuum and mop floors
- Empty the dishwasher
- Help prepare food with supervision
- Rake leaves
- Make their own breakfast and snacks
- Hang, fold and put away their own laundry
- Be responsible for their own belongings
- Keep their bedroom clean
- Write thank you notes
- Walk the pets
- Load the dishwasher
- Put the groceries away
- Help make meals
- Peel vegetables and cook simple foods
- Do simple cleaning tasks
- Bring the trash cans to and from the curb
- Wash the car with supervision
Extra tips to make chores successful
If you’re sick of nagging your kids to do their chores, try these techniques:
- Start early: If you wait until your kids are in school to assign them a list of tasks, they’ll be resistant. Children as young as two can do some basic chores, such as putting toys away, wiping up spills and clearing the table.
- Give specific instructions: Young kids may not understand what you mean by “set the table”, so show them how to do it step by step until they can do it on their own.
- Sing their praises: Offer plenty of praise while your children are performing their chores and afterward.
- Don’t expect perfection: If you’re teaching your seven-year-old to vacuum and mop the floors, don’t expect the job to be done perfectly. Supervise them at first, and then let them do it on their own when they’re ready. You can spot-clean any missed areas after they’re done.
- Resist doing their chores for them: They’ll quickly learn that they don’t need to do them because mom or dad just ends up doing them anyway.
- Avoid nagging: This will only serve to create resistance around chores. Instead, calmly use the “when/then” technique. Say, “When you’ve emptied the dishwasher, then you can go out and play.”
- There are things you can do was early as the newborn phase to help your baby develop independence and concentration- skills that will serve him for his whole life. See our article on how to encourage independence from the start.
- Montessori Educator, Christina Clemer, shares 10 life skills to help teach kids independence, self sufficiency and confidence.