No parent really needs convincing on why it’s important for kids to do chores. Chores teach responsibility and accountability – kids begin to learn appreciation and respect for the work that goes into daily life. Not only can chores give young children a sense of accomplishment and self-sufficiency, but doing simple chores now will set them up with essential life skills they’ll need in the future.
The trickier part is figuring out how to manage this as a parent. Sure, we know chores are good for children, but how many times have we cleaned up after our kids because it’s so much easier and faster to do something on your own than having them do it? Guilty as charged, right? The truth is that teaching your kids how to do chores (and then holding them accountable to actually do them) likely will take much more work on your end than doing it yourself.
Children have an intrinsic desire to be helpful and independent, and it’s up to us to nurture and sustain that. Children as young as 12-18 months can begin helping out with minor tasks. By the time they are 6-7 years old, you might be surprised with how helpful and responsible they can be.
If your kids aren’t used to chores yet, start small. You might have to explain and show them how to do the task many times before they truly are able to do it on their own. This process is not nag-free, either, and you’ll probably have to re-do a lot of these chores after your child is through (especially when they’re very young). But, most of the time, done is better than perfect, and when they’re in high school and doing their own laundry, you’ll be patting yourself on the back.
Every child and family is different, and the sorts of chores you choose will vary based on your parenting style and your children’s interests and abilities. If your child needs motivation, try a chore chart and use a reward system when the chore has been completed for a week. Here are some age-appropriate chores to get you started. Scroll all the way to the bottom for a handy printable chore chart.
Young toddlers aren’t ready for chores yet, but having them help you while you get things done around the house will keep them busy and eventually, they’ll be able to help out too. Giving them hand-over-hand assistance when first learning where things go and how things work will encourage independence, too.
- Help throw dirty clothes into the hamper
- Show them how to fill a bin with toys
- Help them use a cloth to clean a spill
- Throw dirty diapers in the diaper bin
- Stack clean cups
- Help get the mail
- Carry laundry to the washing machine
- Help cook meals – stir, mix, etc.
Kids this age love to help. This often leads to more mess and stress than if they didn’t, but keep the bigger picture in mind, because as they get older, these skills will teach them independence and encourage a helping spirit.
- Put books and toys away
- Water outdoor plants
- Feed the family pet
- Brush teeth
- Sweep small messes with a brush and dustpan
- Put clean, non-breakable dishes away
- Dust furniture
- Wash hands
As your little one start becoming more independent, setting simple routines can help your kiddo get in the habit of daily chores important to their own personal care. Start with bedtime and morning, and then move on to meals and other familiar routines. For instance, a morning routine could include your child getting up, making their bed, getting dressed (and putting their pajamas in the hamper), washing their face and brushing their teeth.
- Set the table for meals
- Helping put away groceries
- Switch laundry from washer to dryer
- Pack backpacks for school
- Make the bed
- Fold clean towels
- Bring bags in from the car
- Sort socks
As your child reaches elementary school, they’ll become more efficient at the chores they’re already undertaking and can take on more. By this age, a chore chart or reward system will help your children stay on track with their chores and encourage them to complete each one.
- Load the dishwasher (no knives)
- Wash the car
- Weed the garden
- Help prep and cook dinner
- Bring in the mail
- Put away clean laundry
- Empty trash cans
- Sweep the kitchen floor