When Should My Child Start Doing Chores?
Young children (ages 2+) love to help us around the house. Even though letting kids ‘help’ can sometimes add to our work load, it’s still worth it. Chores teach kids responsibility, independence and self-reliance. (If we want adults with these character traits, we need to start teaching them now.)
Here are five steps to teach kids responsibility through chores:
1. Meet the child at his/her level
Give tasks and chores that are age appropriate. Break tasks into small pieces for younger children. For a list of age-appropriate chores, click here.
2. Teach the child how to do the task
Parents are often guilty of expecting children to set the table or clean up the playroom without teaching them how it is done. Initially, show the child how to do the task, and then do it together. Finally, let the child do it alone with support. A chart or checklist for the task can be helpful.
3. Value effort
Acknowledge when your child attempts the task or partially completes it. Accept that your child will probably not do it perfectly right away and perhaps for a long time to come. If there is a task that is near and dear to your heart (perfectly folded laundry, hospital corners on the beds) keep that task for yourself rather than feeling that you will have to redo it when your child is not looking. Even though our words say, ‘I know that you can do this,’ when we redo a task that our child has done, our actions scream, ‘You are not responsible enough to do this!’
4. Create routines with your child
Set up morning, bedtime, table-setting routines so that your child learns what is expected every day. This sets everyone up for success and decreases chaos. Make charts so that the child can check to see what needs to be done’use pictures and words if your little ones don’t read.
5. Model responsibility and try to make work fun
Follow your own routines and show your child that responsibility is valued in your home. Turn on some dance music for clean up or set the timer and race the clock. Agree to clean for 5 minutes and then read a story for 3 minutes.
Children will begin to see themselves as responsible members of the household and will continue to accept the responsibilities that go along with that privilege.