Dirty dishes left in every corner of the house, toys scattered all over the living room or dirty clothes piled up in bedrooms – sound familiar? We all know there’s nothing like a messy house to push a busy parent over the edge! Stay calm and teach your children the virtue of household chores.
As parents, one of our main tasks is to teach children to gradually take on more responsibility and grow into adults who can take care of their own basic needs. Household chores are one of the first steps in this journey.
Below are some useful tips for deciding which chores are age appropriate for your kids and how to you can encourage them to take responsibility over them.
Start from the very beginning as by the age 13-to-14-months kids can clean up spills. Any chore requires training. The first few times, do a chore with your child. Then when he or she has confidence, encourage them to do it alone. And don’t criticize if it’s not done exactly how you would want it. Praise the effort and next time show how you would do it.
Ask your nanny or babysitter to work on these chores with your kids, too.
Get the Right Tools
Age-appropriate equipment is a big plus when encouraging little hands to pitch in. A kid-sized broom for sweeping or watering can for taking care of plants can go a long way in making your child feel helpful.
Inject Some Fun
Keep it fun and interesting by changing things up each week or month, adding chores as children get older, or for younger kids add music or make chores part of a game.
Children respond well to specific tasks, especially when they’re younger. Instead of telling your seven-year-old to clean her room, tell her to make her bed or put her clothes away. Routines also drive positive behavior. It’s easier to create a habit if we make it part of a routine and the same is true of completing chores.
Post a chores chart, which shows who is responsible for what household task and when it should be done. After all, chores are much more than contributing to the family. It teaches positive processing. It’s easier for a parent to do a task themselves, but chores are about what you give to your child in terms of self-worth and how they can help the household.
Chore Charts for Children
2 – 3 years old
- Put toys away
- Put dirty clothes into a hamper
- Wipe up small spills with a cloth or paper towel
- Dust low furniture
- Hang up clothes
- Fold napkins in half and put one at each plate before dinner
- Stack books and magazines
- Put shoes away (in the closet or mud room)
- Carry his or her own plate to the sink after meals
4 – 5 years old
- Make his or her bed — pull up blanket and arrange pillows
- Water plants using child-sized watering can
- Bring mail inside
- Fill bowl with cereal and milk for breakfast
- Take utensils out of dishwasher and put in drawer
- Wash plastic cups, dishes and utensils
- Use hand-held vacuum in small areas
- Fill the pet’s food bowl (with supervision)
- Match socks in the clean laundry
- Hang up towels in the bathroom
- Help carry light groceries from the car
- Help sort his or her own dirty laundry to be washed (whites, colors, etc.)
- Brush the dog or cat with a parent’s assistance
6 – 8 years old
- Load the dishwasher
- Set the table for meals
- Put away clean and folded laundry
- Sweep the floor
- Help unpack groceries
- Pull weeds
- Rake leaves
- Empty indoor trash cans/waste baskets
- Replace toilet paper roll
- Feed the pet (and give it water!)
- Practice simple tricks with the family pet (sit, shake hands, fetch)
9 – 10 years old
- Walk the dog
- Fix snacks
- Hunt down easy-to-find items in the supermarket with you
- Help wash the family cars
- Brush dog or cat without assistance
- Clean pet cages (dog crate, cat litter box, rabbit or small animal cage)
- Take trash to the curb for pickup
- Sweep floors/porches
- Set the table
11 – 12 years old
- Wash, dry, fold and put away clothes
- Clean the bathroom
- Unload the dishwasher and put away dishes
- Change their bed sheets
- Prepare easy meals (toast, sandwich, scrambled eggs)
- Bathe the pet
- Pick up dog droppings in the garden
- Empty and change the vacuum bag
- Mow the lawn (with supervision)
- Mop floors
- Vacuum interior of car