Ever wonder when it might be the right time to start introducing chores to your children?
Part of guiding our kids through their childhood and into the world of healthy adulting involves some necessary lessons around accountability. Chores do double duty in this regard – they help teach responsibility and they help get the job done.
As with all tasks and new endeavours, it’s important to remember that all kids are different. Allocating age-appropriate chores to your kids and taking into account their physical strength and capabilities, their emotional maturity, and even their interest level is key. Setting your children up for success is a big part of chore assignment and will have a huge effect on the ultimate benefits.
Age-Appropriate Chore Guide for Kids
If you’re looking to add some responsibility to your kids’ day, the following guide offers you options to get you started that will hopefully spark inspiration for some creative chores that are unique to your family and your family dynamic.
Make no mistake, chores at this age can often create extra work for you. The payoff is the boost to your child’s self-esteem and their absolute joy in the face of responsibility. I guarantee you, eventually they’ll make some headway and become more help than a hindrance. Setting house rules at this early stage will pave the way for numerous benefits later on, including an understanding that all family members must take part in the upkeep of the home.
Appropriate chores for this age are:
Brushing their own teeth. And putting the toothbrush away (after an initial once-over by you).
Putting toys away. This should happen before moving onto another adventure.
Putting dirty clothes in their place. Preferably in a designated laundry basket.
Beginning stages of dressing themselves. Or at least attempting to, one item at a time.
At this age, kids are even more eager to showcase their independence and can actually make great helpers. Try using the tell, show, do, review approach of teaching, and be sure to give praise when your little one accomplishes a task on their own.
Fitting chores for this age include:
Matching socks. And eventually pairing & folding them.
Clearing plates and cups from the table. This should happen at all mealtimes.
Help outside. This could include sweeping decks or porches, raking leaves or helping with simple weeding.
Taking care of pets. Including feeding, taking part in walks, and help with the grooming.
School-aged kids are learning all sorts of responsibility now and maintaining accountability in the home is important and will foster life-long benefits. Keeping the “fun-factor” present in chores can be helpful at this stage, teaching kids that attitude can make any task more enjoyable.
Here are some great chores for this age:
Food preparation. Most kids love to help out in the kitchen at this age and take great pride in helping prepare lunches, adding and tossing salad ingredients or baking healthy treats.
Laundry-related tasks. Sorting, folding and putting clothes away is a wonderful way to boost self-esteem. Kids at this age enjoy putting clothes away in their bedroom closets and drawers. Allow them to help organize and decide where clothes go and watch their confidence soar.
Bedroom cleanup and bed making. Give them guidelines for what constitutes a tidy room and a quick tutorial on bedmaking. If they’ve tried their best, then try your best not to pick up behind them or re-make their beds. Kids will notice your redo and it may affect their certainty of their abilities. Instead, praise their efforts and watch the end result improve over time.
Help with tasks like dusting and emptying small sized trash cans. Try making a game out of it by adding in a song or two as timekeeper.
The pre-teen years are an important time to prepare adolescents for the responsibilities associated with their first job and also a way to ensure they stay focused on family responsibilities during a time of increasing preoccupation with friends and outside interests.
Suitable chores for this age include:
Help with grocery shopping. This helps teach budgeting and food selection. Introduce comparison shopping and the distinction between needs vs. wants.
Simple meal preparation. And it should be done on their own.
Bedroom cleanup. On a daily basis.
Recycling and composting duties. Chances are your kids are being introduced to this important family and social responsibility, so let them shine as they teach you a thing or two.
Teens will sometimes be more resistant to chores (it comes with the territory and their disposition), but if you’ve been assigning chores throughout childhood, most will accept their role and responsibilities within the family dynamic.
Washing and cleaning of the family car. Chances are you’re driving them around in this car, so it makes sense to have them help with its care. As they age, incorporate lessons around checking oil and tire pressure to get them prepared for a car of their own one day.
Begin teaching them to manage their own money. Teens, if earning an allowance or another form of income, should keep an official budget. Sitting down with your teen and discussing the details of an effective budget, an appropriate amount to contribute to savings, bank account management and spending, is one of the most valuable skills you can offer. Set up a time each month to review their budget – not to admonish or criticize them, but to offer praise when appropriate and guidance when necessary.
Yard work and gardening tasks. Teens will take pride in watering plants and flowers and owning responsibility for their survival.
Show teens how the washing machine and dryer work. And gradually make them responsible for their own clothing; another life skill that will take extra work off your plate.
Important to consider with all ages and chores is how to approach consequences if chores are forgotten, ignored or otherwise not completed. A good method is to set age-appropriate consequences ahead of time with your child and then follow through on them. In addition to a consequence, a good way to offer some additional accountability and control to your child is to offer a responsibility or chore that must be completed in order to get it back.
For example, if your teen fails to sort recycling, they lose their cell phone for as long as it takes them to wash the car and clean one bathroom. This allows them to control the amount of time they take to earn their phone back and teaches a very important lesson about accountability. Bonus? You get some extra help around the house.
So, implement fun, easy chores early and gradually add to the complexity and responsibility level as your kids age.
You’ll be offering your child a lifetime of valuable lessons around the payoffs of hard work and a deeper understanding of consequences that accompany their actions.