Age Appropriate Chores for All Kids

It’s never too early to start teaching your children responsibility.  It may sound easier and faster just to accomplish a task by yourself, but not only are you giving yourself more to do in the long run, you’re also crippling your child from become independent and self-sufficient.  The more that doing chores is part of the regular, daily routine for children, the less they’ll resist and the more they’ll develop these important life skills.  Here’s a break down of appropriate chores your children can do at any age.

 1. Ages 2-3

These are the ages where introducing chores to children is critical.  Be conscious of how you present the idea of chores to your children.  Let them observe you cleaning with a positive attitude and by expressing a sense of accomplishment when you’re done.  If children see you complaining, they’ll complain too.  It’s also important during the toddler years that chores are not much more than simple, helpful tasks as opposed to anything involving deep cleaning. Examples of chores for 2-3-year-olds include:

– Put toys away neatly

– Put dirty laundry in hamper/washing machine

– Wipe down door handles

– Dust off baseboards

– Put books away on bookshelf/organize bookshelf

2.  Ages 4-5

At 4- and 5-years old, children should become comfortable with the idea that they can do things for themselves without needing mom or dad to do it all.  Without demanding too much of the little guys, help instill a sense of self-direction and independence that will help them be more successful as they start school and gain more responsibility.  Also do your best to make chores fun.  Turn tasks into games or challenges or sing songs to help them learn the steps to a particular job.  Perhaps your most critical approach to teaching chores is to hold your children accountable, no matter how much they initially resist.  Practice, practice, practice until chores become routine!  Chores appropriate for 4-5-year-olds include:

– Feed family pet

– Put silverware away from dishwasher

– Set dinner table

– Clean windows/mirrors

– Match socks

– Pull weeds

3. Ages 6-8

By ages 6-8, children have started school and rely on parents to teach them the independence they need to be responsible and successful.  Being organized and self-regulating are deeply important even to young students.  They’ll be much more successful at school if they already know how to complete tasks, be organized, be respectful to rules and procedures, and help out.  Don’t let chores become a negative experience!  Yelling will only make children resentful towards chores.  MODEL to children how you expect tasks to be completed and then provide encouragement and positive feedback.  If chores are viewed as being fun and/or positive, children will carry those feelings with them as they mature.  6-8-year-olds can be successful with the following and similar chores:

– Loading homework and lunches into backpack (with a good double check from mom or dad! This teaches responsibility and accountability)

– Clean countertops

– Take trash out

– Fold laundry

– Make bed

– Help put the groceries away

– Water plants

4.  Ages 9-11

By upper elementary age, children can and should still be doing many of the chores they’ve already been completing.  However, by ages 9-11, kids are more capable of thinking outside the “self” and are more ready to do tasks that affect the whole family.  In addition to chores that serve the self only, make it a point to give 9-11-year-olds jobs that will help everyone.  Some examples include:

– Collecting the mail

– Put groceries away

– Folding laundry (yours, someone else’s, or even towels!)

– Pack lunches/Prepare after-school snacks

– Rake leaves/Work in garden

– Wash the car

5. Ages 12-Teens

By middle school and beyond, children should be able to do just about any chore an adult would do.  Be firm in expectations and don’t let moody teenage attitudes win out.  Also continue to provide positive feedback for tasks well done by acknowledging the accomplishment that comes with completing tasks and especially by granting them more independence with time and friends.  Age appropriate chores for pre-teens and teens include:

– Cleaning the bathroom or kitchen

– Cooking meals with little or no supervision (this also teaches valuable cooking skills!)

– Babysitting younger siblings

– Mowing the lawn

– Shoveling snow

– Organizing a closet or pantry

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