Getting the kids to do their chores can often feel like a daily battle in your home. With my own large family, including five kids, I was faced with handling a huge chore list that constantly needed to be done. This mama couldn’t do alone, so I knew I needed to create a chore system that would be efficient and also help my kids succeed in completing their chores.
Doing Chores Is a Good Thing
While chores seem like a daunting task to get our kids to complete, many studies show that chores are a good thing to do. Studies have linked that chores can instill positive characteristics into children later in life when they become adults. In fact, there has been a 75-year study that followed two groups of people where researchers found out that those who were given chores as children ended up being more independent, work in collaborative groups, understood that doing hard work means you are a valuable memory of a community.
Another study conducted by Marty Rossman, who analyzed and collected over 25 years of data, stated that kids around the ages of 3 or 4 who started participating in chores would likely become well-adjusted, have better relationships with their family and friends, and become more successful in their career paths. Marty also noted that chores are an important part of teaching children how to contribute to their families and that chores can help them have a sense of empathy as adults.
Science proves that chores are a good thing, but you should remember that the way you approach chores matters greatly. Dr. John Mayer, author of Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life says that children should do chores that make sense and are efficient for the operation of the household. Dr. Mayer further states that these chores should make sense for the child and family, so the kids feel like they are contributing to something instead for the sake of just doing chores.
When Can My Kids Start Doing Chores?
Children can start doing chores as young as 3 or 4 years old, but there are some things you need to keep in mind when assigning chores to your kids. All our children are unique and develop at different levels, which means age isn’t the only factor when selecting the right chores for your child to do. You need to think about your children’s maturity level, their physical abilities, and their interest when making a list of chores for them to do.
When you consider their age, maturity level, physical abilities, and interest, you are setting your child up for success and giving them an opportunity to feel confident in their abilities.
Teach Them First
Remember that your child isn’t going to know how to properly do a chore right away. You need to walk with your children through it an teach them. Younger children will watch you in order to learn how to complete the chore. You can always have your old children attempt it on their own.
Age Appropriate Chores
Ages 2 and 3
Toddlers love to always help and have an interest in what we moms are doing. While their help might not always be helpful, it gets them excited and in the habit of helping around. One way you can celebrate your toddler’s success in completing their chore is making a sticker chart.
Here are some chores ages 2 and 3 can do:
- Help make the bed
- Pick up toys and books
- Put laundry in the hamper or the laundry room
- Help feed the pets
- Help wipe up messes
- Dust with socks on their hands
Ages 4 and 5
Preschool-aged kids are motivated and still love to help. At this age most preschool-aged kids don’t need constant supervision to do their chores. One way you can celebrate your preschooler’s success is a sticker chart that allows them to build up to bigger rewards. Maybe they earn a favorite treat or are given an allowance.
Here are some chores ages 4 and 5 can do:
- Get dressed with minimal help
- Make their bed with minimal help
- Pick up their toys
- Wash hands
- Bring things from the car to the house.
- Set and clear the table with supervision
- Help prepare food with a parent
- Sort colors for the laundry
- Match socks
- Be responsible for feeding the family pet
- Dust with supervision
- Clean their room
- Water plants
By this age, your school-aged children might not have the desire to complete their chores. They might become more independent. This then becomes a great opportunity for your children to learn how to be self-sufficient. Use their chore chart to keep track of their responsibilities. You can still use the reward system from for ages 4 and 5 to help keep them motivated to do their chores.
Here are some chores ages 6-8 can do:
- Take care of pets with feeding, giving water, and exercise
- Vacuum and mop
- Take out the trash
- Fold and put laundry away
- Make their bed every day
- Brush their teeth
- Comb their hair
- Choose their outfit for the day and get dressed
- Write thank-you notes
- Put away dishes from the dishwasher
- Help prepare food with supervision
- Clean their room
Children who are around 9-12 years old usually appreciate having a set schedule and know what their expectations are. Creating a schedule or system with their input will more likely motivate them to help. Find a system that works for them and your family. Make sure if you change anything in the family system that you inform them. You should discuss rewards and negative consequences, so your children are aware of their expectations with the family chores.
Here are some chores ages 9-12 can do:
- Take care of their personal hygiene
- Keep their bedroom clean
- Be responsible for homework
- Be responsible for their own belongings
- Wake up using an alarm clock
- Washing dishes
- Wash the family car with supervision
- Prepare simple meals on their own
- Clean the bathroom with supervision
- Learn to use the washer and dryer
- Putting all the laundry away
- Bring the mail inside
When your children become teenagers, they are more than likely capable of handling any chore in the home as long as you have taught them how to complete the chore. At this age, often teenagers’ schedules become cramped with their own activities, homework, and other workloads. Your teens might become overwhelmed with all of the things that demand their time and attention, so make sure you monitor their schedule and any commitments. Be sure to make adjustments so your teenagers can manage their schedule and not feel overwhelmed.
Here are some chores ages 13-18 can do:
- Complete their assigned chores without being told to do so
- Help with yard work as needed
- Prepare food, including making a grocery list and buying the necessary items
- Responsible to earn spending money
- Responsible for purchasing their own clothes
- Maintain any car they drive, such as gas, oil changes, tire pressure, etc.
- Deep cleaning the house, including household appliances