Chores For Kids: Appropriate Chores For Every Age
I want to propose to you to change the word chore into two words…. Life Skills. We as adults even cringe at the mere thought of having to do a chore. But are those things we are doing actual chores?
No, they are really a huge part of life. So attaching such a negative word and approach to it is not going to do you or anyone else any good.
When you are guiding your kids, you want to show them better ways to do things, teach them important life lessons and skills. You want to know that when your child enters adulthood that you have done your best to prepare them.
The Upkeep Of The Household Is The Responsibility Of Every Occupant
A great way to do this is by having them do household tasks. Taking care of the house is the responsibility of every member of the household.
Have every member of the house help around the home as well as doing other household related tasks they need to survive, thrive and become productive adults.
Tasks teach kids various skill sets they need throughout their entire life. It teaches kids the importance of personal responsibility, how to set a goal and reach it, and how to do certain things that will definitely improve their lives as they get older.
This post goes over some of the tasks that are age-appropriate. You will learn what tasks your children can do whether they are toddlers or teenagers and every age in between.
Tips For Getting Kids To Learn Life Skills
Before looking into the different life skill tasks your kids can do at various ages, let’s take a moment to discuss getting your kids to doing them in the first place.
This is going to be one of the struggles you face, once you know what tasks your child is able to handle at his or her current age. Remember to keep modeling the behavior you expect of your child and not give up on them, as one of these methods is going to help your child understand that having to do daily tasks are part of their personal responsibility and not just something mom or dad will do.
One of the most important things to remember when you want your kids to do their chores is to remain consistent and be firm.
Don’t go ahead and do their tasks for them if they take too long or don’t want to do it. If you told your preteen to put their folded laundry away, leave it there until they do it.
Have rules and consequences when they aren’t doing their daily tasks, see them through. Your kids will soon learn you mean business and they need to keep up with these responsibilities.
Start Chores at a Young Age
A common mistake many parents make because they aren’t aware of what kids can do at certain ages is waiting too long to have kids help around the house. This is especially true when it comes to cooking, meal prep and even things like budgeting and shopping for the household.
Even kids as young as two or three can do certain things that will get them used to the practice of doing household tasks. Start them young, and it will be easier to get them to handle their responsibilities as they get older.
Don’t Worry About Being Perfect
Children aren’t going to be super precise or leave the place immaculate, but it is the effort that is most important.
You can supervise some of these tasks so that you know if something needs to be redone when they leave the room, such as a kid doing dishes and not cleaning something all the way.
- Having a checklist for them to refer back to will help.
Choose your battles wisely, the bed doesn’t have to look like the beds made in a hotel or like they come from the military. If you judge them for this, they will lose all motivation to keep doing chores. Of course things like the dishes will matter, I mean we eat off those things.
Keep Praising Your Child
Make sure your kids know that they are doing a good job. Children really want to do good and it helps tremendously when you can recognize their efforts. Every time they do a chore on their own without being asked, they did it correctly, or kept up with the chore chart you have created, praise them and let them know they did a good job.
Why I Do Not Offer an Allowance
This is an individual choice, but many parents find that giving their kids an allowance works great. Some parents are like myself who will say that when you pay your kids to clean up after themselves, it teaches them to expect payment from others to take care of their own responsibilities.
While others believe it teaches them good work ethic for the future. This is really your choice, just know, understand and accept that what you do right now is setting your child up to expect it for a lifetime.
In my stance, I refuse to pay my children to clean up after themselves or to teach them that they need to be paid to be a productive family member and household member.
If I pay my kids to take the trash out that they have contributed to the trash creation, what is this teaching the child? Why would I pay my child to clean the dishes they ate off of? Think long term goals you want for your child.
If you pay your child to contribute to the household, what do you think they will want and expect as an adult? I know when I clean the dishes, I don’t get paid!
That is one of the most important lessons my own mother taught me! I used to get an allowance 25 cents per day, until one day she read an article in the Boston Globe about this issue of kids being paid to help take care of their own house.
So if you’re like me or you are now questioning about the better way to go, I encourage you to think long term. When I say paying them this means payment in any form, a money payment, a bribe anything in exchange for…..
Chores For Younger Children
Start your toddlers with simple tasks, I start from the beginning, their first birthday. This is a good age to get started so they can begin learning personal responsibility. Do realize, know and understand that until they are around four years old, they do not have the capacity to fully understand what you are trying to teach them.
Right now, you simply want to teach a habit, something repetitive that becomes second nature to them. You simply want them to mimic you, even though they do not even know why. Continue to think long term, not just what they can do right now.
At age one, they love taking things out and they also enjoy throwing things into buckets and cabinets too. Get some smaller bins so they can “clean” up their toys after they are done, designate specific bins and show them how easy and fun it is to clean it up.
What Can Two and Three Year-Olds Do?
At age two, they can do many things. My two year old loves to help sweep, mop, put clothes into the dryer, throw trash away and more. Well, he thinks he is doing a great job, most times it does create more work for me. However, my end goal is to get him to learn about helping around the house.
They can not completely do it on their own, but let them assist you. Kids at this age should also be able to help with spills, feed the pets with your supervision, and put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket.
Four and Five Year-Olds
When they get a little older, they can start doing more things on their own. This includes doing more of making the bed, being responsible for picking up things in the living room and bedroom, and getting dressed on their own. Children of this age should also be able to help with some things in the kitchen, such as stirring or putting dishes in the dishwasher. They can help outdoors by watering plants, raking leaves and putting them into bags, putting away groceries, and taking dirty dishes from the table and putting them in the sink.
My own children helped with some things in the kitchen, such as mixing foods, wipe down the table and chairs, help outdoors by watering plants, raking leaves and putting them into bags, putting away groceries, and clearing the table.
What School-Aged Children Can Do
By the time your child reaches first or second grade, they should already be comfortable with doing simple tasks and on their way to being capable of doing even more around the house. This is a time where you use things like cleaning or household tasks charts and lists for them to use on their own.
Six and Seven Year-Olds
Your children should now be able to make their own beds without supervision. It is okay if it isn’t perfect, but this is a good age to stop helping them. Here is a list of other tasks and chores kids at this age can handle:
- Writing things on greeting cards
- Vacuuming, sweeping and mopping
- Taking out the trash, with your supervision
- Folding and putting away laundry
- Food prep, with your supervision
- Cleaning up their room
Tasks Eight to Ten-Year-Olds Can Do
Between eight and ten years old they can understand more and they will retain what you are teaching them. Now that they are older they can learn how to properly complete each task that you have been teaching them. Physically show them every step they need to take to complete the task on their own. Then work with them through the tasks, then leave them to do it on their own while you supervise them. After a few times, they will be able to complete the tasks without needing your direction and better for you, you don’t have to micro-manage them!
In addition to the tasks above you can add a few more things for them to learn.
- Cook simple foods, like pasta and rice, baked foods and other things
- Clean bathrooms
- Sort through laundry and prepare them for the washer
- Bring trash barrels to their designated spot for the trash truck pickup
- Learn about separating items into their proper waste bins such as paper, plastics, and glass
- Help with menu planning
- Bring in and put groceries away
Chores For Your Pre-Teen
Preteens pretty much can do most of what you ask them to do. At this age when they are given their list of tasks, they should be able to cross them all off on their own. You can still supervise them to make sure they use the right amount of soap and select the right setting, but for the most part, these are things they can handle on their own.
At this age, micro-managing should be toned down slowly and by the time they are an actual teen, there shouldn’t be any type of micro-managing done.
Pre-teens can also do the following things themselves:
- Dust wood furniture
- Vacuum and mop all rooms
- Change light bulbs
- Change their bed sheets
- Do more yard work, such as pulling weeds or mowing the lawn
- Preparing simple family meals
- Cleaning windows and mirrors
- Doing the dishes without help
- Pet care like feeding, giving water and walking without direction
What Can Teens Be Responsible And Accountable For?
As soon as I have a teen in the house things change up quite a bit as far as responsibilities go. Thinking long term still, what is it that you want your child to remain with them for the rest of their lives?
You want to teach them as many basic skills as you can before they reach thirteen years old and more complex ones after that. By the time they go to college or move out on their own, they will know how to take care of themselves and their home properly. This is done through various tasks that you have worked with them to master over the years.
Thirteen-Year-Olds Have Multiple Skills, Show Them How To Put Them To Use
At age thirteen, you want to start leaving them to do it on their own, without reminders or direction. You do want to check up on them to be sure they follow through though. But you really want them to step up and be more responsible in them taking the lead to do what is asked of them.
Help them build and master the skills and abilities that you have been helping them gain while adding on some more things that will be beneficial throughout their lives.
Things 13-Year-Olds Can Do On Their Own
- Iron their clothes
- Wash their own laundry
- Keeping the house organized
- Helping with small repairs around the house
- Helping with sibling care
- Begin to learn about household budgeting
Some Things Your 14-Year-Old and 15-Year-Old Can Do Around The House
These are the ages where I really start leaving it up to the kids. I watch them from afar and correct and redirect where and when it is needed and appropriate. One thing I do not do is tell them how to do a task if they are asked to clean their room and they do it differently than I do yet they get it cleaned, then I leave them be. We all have our own ways to do things, routines and rituals, so I will respect their own process that they have come up with.
Each year I add a few new things for them to learn and master. My job as a parent is to get them fully prepared to be on their own and become productive proactive adults out in society. This is the perfect age to sit back and watch how they have learned from you. This is a time where we begin to rotate the various tasks between us.
The kids will help with menu planning, shopping and then prepping the foods to cook. We do these things together as a team. We decide based on who knows how to do what when it comes to the actual cooking. If I cook the meals, the kids clean up, when they cook, I clean up. We always rotate and help one another throughout the entire process.
During these ages is a great time to also get the kids learning more about planning, coordinating, budgeting, shopping, finance and household repairs.
What Happens Between Ages 16 – 18?
What Kind Of Tasks Are They Capable Of Truly Completing On Their Own?
At age 16 my kids can do everything that I can do. Whatever it is that mom and dad can do, a sixteen-year-old can and should also be doing too.
From sixteen to eighteen years old is a time where my job is to redirect and correct anything so that once they are truly out there in society, they will be well prepared for it.
I get them 100% involved with anyhing there is to do with the entire household. Everything from helping with household decisions to repairs and everything in between. The only thing they do not do is actually pay bills. However, I show them how bills work and get them involved with how to lower those bills.
We go through so many tasks at this stage in life. Many times I give them a task and leave them be and just observe. When something needs to be repaired, I ask them to access the problem or possible cause to see if a repair person needs to be called. If a person needs to be called into service something, yes you guessed it! My teens will do this, I help guide them before, during and after the phone call to the service department, they aren’t totally alone.
When something needs to be repaired, I ask them to access the problem or possible cause to see if a repair person needs to be called. If a person needs to be called into service something, yes you guessed it! My teens will do this, I help guide them before, during and after the phone call to the service department, they aren’t totally alone.
I can give the teens the task of giving them a monthly food budget and they then break it down weekly. They are to find coupons and sales that match up, they prepare a menu, a shopping list, complete the shopping and put everything away.
- Supervise, guide, help, give advice, redirect and correct as they go along.
- Leave the thinking, problem solving and actions needed for the teens to do.
- Think long term in what our kids need to know how to complete on their own in their own household as an adult.
What Do You Think? What Else WOuld You Add On? Did I Leave Anything Out?
I have been in childcare since 1986! I had my first child when I was 18 and love helping parents with support and resources they need. I do not sugarcoat life and I solve problems without emotions.
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