Assigning Chores to Kids

Young boy using the washing machine

Chores for kids are much more than a parent's attempt at gaining free labor-- they also help teach responsibility and a sense of family unity. Which chores a child should be doing will depend on a number of factors, including age, ability, and maturity, but even toddlers are able to help out around the house.

When to Assign Chores

Kids vary significantly in their abilities to perform routine task, so it can be difficult to assign arbitrary ages to chores. You will have to gauge your child's maturity and abilities before assigning jobs. In general, though, children can progress naturally in their chore assignments. For example, a toddler is able to pick up toys and put them in a toy box. As he gets older, he can begin adding steps, such as putting books in a bookshelf, putting clothes away, and dusting, until he is eventually able to clean his entire room.

Perform Chores Together

When assigning chores, it is important to note that young children learn best by example. Instead of assigning your kids a long list of chores, give them a select few and then work alongside them the first few times. That way, you can ensure that your child understands the steps involved and that he is capable of performing them safely.

For example, if you would like your kids to start doing laundry, don't just tell them to wash the clothes. Instead, take your children into the laundry room and demonstrate the steps involved. Teach them how to sort clothes by color, show them how to treat stains, and explain how to measure the detergent. By working with your kids, you are making chores seem less like work and more like family time.

Break It Down

Another important aspect of assigning chores is to break the job down into workable components. It is unrealistic to tell a five-year-old, "Go clean your room." Instead, break that down piece by piece into tasks that make sense to his young mind.

So, you might say:

  1. Pick up toys and put them in the toybox.
  2. Pick up books and put them in the bookshelf.
  3. Put dirty laundry in the hamper.
  4. Dust the dresser with a damp cloth.

This set of simple instructions will get you far greater results than a blanket order to clean the room. If you want even better results, refer to the previous section and clean the room with him.

Make it Fun

Chores for kids do not have to be work. Chores can be a great opportunity for parents and children to bond and have fun. They can also be a non-threatening environment for sharing and conversation. To make chores more fun, try these tips:

  • Use a reward system. Reward does not have to be synonymous with money; stickers, praise, computer time, television time, and small treats also work well.
  • Turn off the radio and dance while you work.
  • Play word games or tell stories as you complete chores.
  • Make up silly songs and sing while you work.

Chores for Children by Age

Little girl helping wash a car

Note that the lists below are just general guidelines. Use your own discretion before assigning chores and make sure that your child is ready for any jobs assigned. . Only you know what chores your child is capable of performing.

Ages 2 to 3

As soon as they can walk, most kids are able to:

  • Pick up toys
  • Pick up and stack books
  • Pick up laundry
  • Dust
  • Wipe up spills
  • Help sort laundry by color
  • Sort silverware

Ages 4 to 5

Kids of ages four to five are usually able to perform jobs requiring multiple steps. In addition to the tasks listed above, most kids in this age group can:

  • Feed pets
  • Make bed
  • Prepare simple meals, such as sandwiches or cereal
  • Empty small wastebaskets
  • Match socks
  • Wash and put away dishes (with help)
  • Wipe tables

Ages 6 to 9

In addition to the tasks already listed, many kids of six to nine are able to:

  • Sweep
  • Help with slightly more involved meals
  • Set table
  • Wash and fold laundry (with help)
  • Clean bedroom
  • Load dishwasher
  • Put away laundry
  • Vacuum

Ages 10 to 13

  • Clean bathroom
  • Clean kitchen
  • Assume more responsibility for pet's care
  • Assist parent in caring for younger sibling
  • Mow lawn (with supervision and an ultra-safe mower)

Benefits of Chores for Kids

Getting kids involved in home and lawn care is beneficial to both parents and children. In addition to the obvious-- a cleaner home-- there are many other benefits to getting your kids involved in household chores. For starters, kids who begin learning domestic duties at a young age are more likely to keep a tidy home later in life. Being expected to perform certain tasks at designated times teaches kids responsibly and accountability, two traits that will carry over into all areas of life. Kids who pitch in around the house also feel a tighter sense of family unity; they learn from an early age that they are part of a team. This sense of teamwork and working together can better prepare them for working with schoolmates and teammates.

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Assigning Chores to Kids