Children may complain about chores, but studies show that helping around the house benefits kids into adulthood. Kids are less likely to resist doing chores if you start early, but what chores can you assign to a toddler? Surprisingly, our children can handle more tasks than we think they can. Here’s a guide to age-appropriate chores for kids.
The benefits of chores
Studies show that being expected to do chores builds a child’s self-confidence and sense of self-reliance. Chores also teach teamwork and help children feel included. To help foster a habit of doing chores, emphasize to children that they are part of the family and their contributions matter.
It’s important to remember that all children are different. Chores may be more difficult for some than others. A child with ADHD, for example, may have more trouble handling chores than his siblings. Consider individual characteristics such as physical abilities and maturity in deciding what chores to assign to your children. Give them a list of chores they can handle to build a sense of success. Don’t expect perfection.
Keep in mind that the youngest children love to help. You may have to clean up after their attempts to clean up, but it’s good to instill the habit of pitching in early. Children from 18 months to 3 can help put away toys and dirty clothes, hang their towels on a hook and bring unbreakable dishes to the sink.
Stickers and star charts thrill children this age, so set up a system where they can earn them. Preschoolers may be able to remember several steps of a process and have better hand-eye coordination than their younger siblings. Here are some chores that 3-to-5-year-olds can likely handle. Remember, you may still need to follow up.
- Carrying light bags in from the car.
- Getting the mail.
- Helping with unloading the dishwasher.
- Helping with watering plants.
- Helping an older sibling set and clear the table.
- Sorting laundry.
- Helping with folding laundry and putting it away.
- Making their bed.
- Dusting with a sock on their hand.
- Assisting with meal preparation by stirring, helping with measurements and the like.
Children in this age range can often independently complete activities they once needed help with, such as setting the table or folding laundry. Other age-appropriate chores for children this age include:
- Making their own breakfast and lunch.
- Sweeping, vacuuming and mopping.
- Putting away groceries.
- Loading and unloading the dishwasher.
- Wiping down counters and sinks.
- Emptying bedroom and bathroom trash cans.
- Putting away their own laundry.
- Stripping beds.
Preteens are ready for more responsibility. In addition to those they’ve previously performed, the following are age-appropriate chores for preteens.
- Doing the family laundry and putting it away.
- Washing the car and helping with yard work.
- Changing sheets.
- Making simple meals.
- Taking garbage to the curb.
- Walking the dog.
- Babysitting younger siblings while parents are at home.
Children can handle almost any task an adult can do by this point. The teen years are an important time to prepare for the responsibilities of adulthood, so children this age should be expected to handle chores in addition to their schoolwork and extracurricular activities. Age-appropriate chores include:
- Cleaning bathrooms.
- Mowing the lawn and raking leaves.
- Cleaning out the refrigerator.
- Washing windows.
- Cooking more complex meals.
- Making simple clothing repairs like sewing on buttons.
- Handling all aspects of pet care.
- Helping parents with simple home or car repairs.
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