Age Appropriate Chores

Chore pic 1What Chores are Appropriate for Your Child?
The majority of parents would agree that chores are good for children, but some may wonder if the added responsibility will have a negative impact.

Some parents are so busy that they don’t have the extra time it takes to model, monitor, assist and train children by doing chores with them- it definitely takes more time! Maybe they are worried that their children are just too busy, and don’t want to add anything else to their schedule. Still, others may even feel guilty asking their children to help. They might believe that chores get in the way of homework, playing, and social interactions, and that kids should spend their time just being kids.

Even though these concerns are all valid, experts encourage parents to put in the extra effort to include their children in the household chores. Doing chores gives children the opportunity not only to invest in the family, and make a meaningful contribution, but to benefit personally in many ways.

Chores Can Help Your Child’s Future  
The benefits of chores have a lasting positive impact on children. Research completed by Marty Rossmann,  associate professor of family education, shows that children who are involved in household chores at an early age are more likely to be well adjusted in early adulthood.

Chores help parents teach their children how to be reliable, competent and capable. Children derive self-esteem and confidence from helping with these tasks knowing their contributions make a difference in the family. Rossmann’s research found that participation in chores as a young child was the best predictor of success for young adults in their 20’s.

Get Everyone Involved!
Parents shouldn’t expect perfection or overwhelm their children. This can have a negative impact. Instead, parents should teach their child in age appropriate, bite-size steps based on the child’s ability. Parents shouldn’t ask a child to do a chore that is too hard, as it can be frustrating and discouraging, but it’s good to increase the expectations as the child grows and masters easier tasks.  Often children can learn a difficult chore over time and feel extreme satisfaction at a job well done. Young children’s chores are mostly about “helping” parents. Lots of compliments and positive communication should be a part of the chore process for all ages.

Rossman also encourages parents to give children the opportunity to be involved by giving input at family meetings and helping to fill out chore charts. There are fun ways to assign chores such designing a spinner with chores on it that the child spins to determine their weekly tasks. Another idea is a hat with chores written on folded pieces of paper so each child is allowed to draw their weekly chores. In their book, “Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood: Practical Parenting Tips from Birth to Six Years,” authors Jim Fay and Charles Fay, Ph.D advise parents to give children choices about which age appropriate chores they would like to do. Offer them a choice between two chores each that are acceptable to you, but let them choose. The most important thing is to let your child be involved whenever possible, so they more readily take ownership of their assigned chores.

To Pay or Not to Pay
Allowance is a controversial subject among parents. Should children be paid for doing chores?  Most experts, including those at Love and Logic agree that children should not receive allowance for chores. Chores should be an unpaid contribution to the family. However, allowance is a good way to teach children many valuable lessons and prepare them for adulthood. Experts advise parents to offer an alternate way to earn money. Having extra optional jobs above and beyond the child’s regular chore is a good way for them to earn allowance.

At What Age Should Chores Begin?
What age is too young for chores? Jim and Charles Fay, in the above mentioned book, state that children are ready for chores as soon as they can walk. You can teach chores by making it fun like a game and also by modeling. Show your children what it looks like to work hard. Let them know that sometimes chores are hard for you, and let them see you struggle then accomplish the task. Let them see your sense of accomplishment when the task is complete.

By showing how you handle chores even when they are difficult, it will help children as they start new challenges because they can mimic you.  Young children delight in helping and love to imitate,  so this is a good stage to start building the foundation for doing chores. Jim and Charles Fay stress that at this age we should never criticize the quality of their work, but instead praise the effort the child puts into it.

by Wendy Sinclair

What chore is appropriate for what age?
Each child is different and has their own unique abilities, so there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Here is a list to get you started compiled from experts, moms, and  teachers, but tailor these chores to your child’s abilities. With young children chores will be done with a parent. As your child grows, you will provide less and  less help until they are able capable of doing it on their own. It is important to offer a lot of praise and focus on the things that your child is doing well.

-Pick up toys in a small area and put them in a toy box
-Put dirty clothes in hamper
-Wipe down front of oven, fridge, garbage can, or doors with a wet washcloth/wipe
-Throw away trash/diapers in trash can
-Fold washcloths (sort of)
-Help set table

4-5 Year Olds
-All previous chores
-Put all away toys around the house
-Straighten books on bookshelf
-Put away clean silverware
-Help clean bedroom
-Sweep kitchen floor with small broom (you will need to “touch up” after your child)
-Clean off table
-Wipe down dirty walls
-Fold towels (the end result may be unlike any folded towels you have seen)
-Feed pets
-Water plants

6-7 Year Olds
-All previous chores
-Clean room without help
-Gather trash from receptacles throughout the house; take garbage outside to the big can
-Rake leaves
-Light tidying of bathroom (wipe down sink, toilet, mirror, pick up clothes off floor)
-Fold laundry
-Sweep floors (will still need help at this age)
-Unload dishwasher (with help- put items they can’t reach on counter for parents to put away)
-Pre-Wash dishes for adults to put in dishwasher
-Take clothes out of dryer
-Put wet clothes from washer into dryer

8-9 Year Olds
-All previous chores
-Wipe off/clear off table
-Wash dishes and load dishwasher (with some help)
-Help with meal prep
-Bring trash to curb on trash day
-Take care of pets
-Weed flowers / garden
-Organize toy cabinets

10-12 Year Olds
-All previous chores
-Clean bathroom
-Tidy and sweep garage/basement
-Mow the yard
-Wash basic laundry
-Make easy meals/snacks
-Mop floors
-Clean the kitchen
-Helping with younger siblings
-Clean out car and wash the outside of it
-Do a light clean of inside fridge/microwave

-All previous chores
-Deep Clean kitchen/bathroom/living room
-Change light bulbs
-Yard work
-Wash windows
-Watch younger siblings
-Clean tub/shower
-Make meals alone
-Iron clothes
-Dust ceiling fans

  1. Marsha

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