Kids are messy! There, I said it. As children get older, they need chores to feel involved and needed; these skills will stay with them as they grow up. Plus, you need the help with tidying up all the toys, puzzle pieces and dolls. Remember when you would be tidying up around the house and your 2 yr old wanted to help? But now, at 4, they disappear when they see the broom. Where did the little, eager to learn and help child go? They decided they would rather play all day, who wouldn’t?
Let’s talk about appropriate chores for each age group. These will be guidelines only, as not all children develop at the same rate. For the sake of this article, ages are grouped from 3-4 yrs, 5-6 yrs, and 7-8 yrs old. The younger the child, the less of an attention span they have to commit to lengthy tasks. Start off with one chore and work your way up to 3 chores. Most of the chores are just cleaning up after themselves and learning where items belong.
Some chore ideas to include are:
• Clean out everything UNDER your bed
• Wipe bathroom sink and vanity in bathroom
• Clear & clean the table after dinner
• Set the table
• Fold washcloths
• Match socks
• Clear the table
• Entertain younger sibling(s)
• Dress self, brush teeth
• Put something away for mom or dad
• Wipe tables and counters after meals
• Sweep or vacuum up crumbs
• Put away groceries
• Make own bed
• Feed the cat or dog
• Get the mail
Patience and Skills are Required
The next list is a great guideline for older children; I would suggest 9+. These chores will be more time consuming, take more patience and skill. Children love to be around when you’re cooking in the kitchen, often wanting to taste test, and that’s why I find this is the easiest place to get them to help out.
Kitchen Chores For Kids
• Peel vegetables
• Keep bedroom tidy (download a room-cleaning checklist for kids)
• Write a shopping list
• Take out garbage and recycling
• Wash windows
• Weed garden
• Prepare and serve a snack
• Clean toilets, sinks, mirrors
• Do own laundry from start to finish (after lots of training!)
• Chop vegetables
• Change sheets
• Make simple meals
• Keep room neat
Show Them How To Do It and What Your Expectations Are
If you’re just introducing chores to your children, this list may seem overwhelming. Break chores up depending on their age and have them complete 1 or 2. There’s no doubt that push back will happen but it’s part of life, stay strong!
Once your child has their tasks, show them how to do it and what your expectations are. Answer any questions and remember that this is new to them, so expect errors. Checking their work is important when it’s a detailed task as you want to ensure they understand it. Be positive and reassuring because they want to feel like they did a great job and that they’re helping around the house. Make sure the task is completed the way you have shown them, if not, have them retry until it is. Note: if you must correct it to your liking, do this once they have left the area, a task can still be done properly even if not to your liking – some things are subjective.
Help Them Learn Responsibility and Household Tasks
What about an allowance for your child’s chores? This often comes into question when your child knows what money is and has interests in buying items. Should your child get an allowance for chores? Usually not, say most parenting experts. Chores around the house are to learn responsibility and learning about household tasks. Money is a good incentive for older children to do more chores, above what they already do. You can have your child pick off a list of ‘extra chores’ that would provide an allowance for completing them.
My final thought on having your kids help out, is to be specific. A clean room to your 6 yr old may not be your definition of a clean room. Tell them exactly what to do, i.e. put clothes in drawers, make the bed, put dirty clothes in laundry, etc. If not, you may be pulling things out from under the bed and the closet months later.