Chores by Age – What is appropriate for my kids?

Chores by Age
Parents often had to deal with giving chores to kids as they are growing up. Starting them early means teaching them personal and family responsibility at a young age. But the dilemma on what type of house chores do kids at different ages can do tend to be very tricky, after all, there’s no one rule for it.
Messy bedrooms, toys lying around the living room floor, dirty dishes, and soiled clothes everywhere – there are just too many chores that needed to be done. Before overwhelming your kids with housework, be realistic and be clear first what chores are important for kids to learn, and what are they capable of doing right now.

This early, know that kids will adjust to various types of chores differently. Don’t nag and be patient, remember that children are not born knowing how to do these chores. You must walk them through it and teach them how it is done.

Age-Appropriate Chores for Children

Kids of different ages are capable of doing different chores. Your 5-year old, for example, may be unable to perform very heavy housework like your 12-year old. Knowing the types of house chores they might be capable of doing, both physically and mentally, will give you a better understanding of what tasks to assign them. And help you manage your expectations on what they can do at a certain age.

Here’s a list of age-appropriate chores that could guide you on the type of housework that kids in different age range can do and complete:

Toddler Chores (ages 2 and 3)

Toddlers at this age love to help doing small chores around the house. Aside from wanting to be always close or around their parents, toddlers are genuinely curious and don’t think about helping out as a chore at all. A common mistake parents do is not letting them do small things to help at home. But a kid who picks up the habit of helping at home at a young age will be more willing to do tasks as they get older.

Here are the tasks that 2-3-year-olds are capable of doing at this stage:

  • Pick up/ put toys away
  • Dust with a feather duster or microfiber rag
  • Put clothes in the hamper
  • Collect dirty clothes
  • Wipe cabinets and baseboards
  • Fill pet’s food dish
  • Wipe spills
  • Pile and arrange books and magazines

Preschool Chores (ages 4 and 5)

Kids aged 4 to 5 years old may be capable of doing more house chores at home. At this stage, you could help your child be motivated by introducing chore charts and stickers as a reward. When assigning chores to your preschoolers, remember that some kids may have better motor skills than the others, use your judgment to identify whether your child is ready for a specific chore or not.

  • Any of toddler chores
  • Make the bed
  • Loading the dishwasher with dirty dishes
  • Sort out things for recycling
  • Sort clothes color for laundry
  • Set and clear the table before and after a meal often with supervision
  • Clean windows
  • Wipe out bathroom sinks
  • Match socks from the laundry
  • Water flowers
  • Fix a bowl of cereal for themselves
  • Folding dish towels and other simple garments
  • Weed house plants
As kids tend to have a different level of skills development at this point, some children at 4 to 5 years old may already be capable of doing the vacuum and washing dishes with supervision. Still, others need a little more time to learn such chores.

Early Elementary (ages 6-8)

Parents tend to have a little more argument with their kids on doing house chores at this stage. Kids would often resist helping at home than previously as they learn many other social things to do like playing video games or watching television. It may be helpful to set rules on chores. Say no TV or games until their assigned housework is done. This will teach your kids to set priorities and be responsible at the same time.

  • Any of the toddler and preschool chores
  • Simple meal preparation
  • Wiping bathroom sinks, counters, and toilet
  • Hanging laundry to dry
  • Operating the laundry machine (on and off)
  • Transferring clothes from washer to dryer
  • Sweeping the floor
  • Using the vacuum
  • Collecting garbage
  • Getting the mail from the mailbox
  • Folding clothes
  • Cleaning the microwave (with supervision)
  • Raking the leaves in the garden

Elementary (ages 9-11)

Parents tend to have a little more argument with their kids on doing house chores at this stage. Kids would often resist helping at home than previously as they learn many other social things to do like playing video games or watching television. It may be helpful to set rules on chores. Say no TV or games until their assigned housework is done. This will teach your kids to set priorities and be responsible at the same time.

  • Any previous chores assigned to toddlers, preschools and early elementary kids
  • Make meals (with supervision)
  • Wiping bathroom sinks, counters, and toilet
  • Taking the garbage out
  • Washing and drying clothes
  • Cleaning the toilet
  • Mopping the floor
  • Vacuuming the car
  • Wash the car
  • Iron clothes
  • WBabysit a younger sibling (with an adult at home)
  • Clean the kitchen
  • Changing their bed sheets as necessary

Middle School (ages 12-14)

Middle schoolers tend to cause the biggest headache for parents at home in terms of doing housework as they start to be more busy with social and personal activities. But even if your child has a lot of things going on, busy with studies, friends, relationships or just plain moody, it is important for parents to remind their children of family duties and household responsibilities at home. They may not realize it now, but they will thank you later that they know how to clean toilets or prepare their own meals.

Here are the things that your 12 to 14-year-old child is capable of doing at this point:

  • Clean the tub and shower
  • Make full meals and set meal plans
  • Clean out the fridge and defrost the freezer
  • Mow the yard
  • Wash the car without supervision
  • Supervise younger children’s chores at home
  • Babysit younger kids without supervision
  • Do assigned housework without prompting
  • Do yard work as needed
  • Prepare food from making a grocery list and buying the items

High School (15-18 yrs.)

Here’s the thing, by the time your kids are around high school, or age 15 to 18 years old, hopefully, they are now capable of doing any chore at home without being told to do so. At this stage, your child will also be able to manage the household with their smaller siblings.

Do’s and don’ts When it comes to chores:

  • Don’t insist on kids doing perfect work. No one is perfect, even in doing housework. To be effective in teaching your child how to do chores at home, parents need to be relaxed and easy on their approach when training their kids. They’ll pick up how you want chores to be done eventually, be patient.
  • Don’t delay teaching them chores. You might think your child may be too young to do housework, but in reality, kids are capable of doing small things to help at home as different stages. Identify what kind of chores your kid can do at a certain age and let them help out. It will be much easier for you later on.
  • Be generous with your praise. Kids like feeling appreciated. So when they do a good job, or even while doing their chores and accomplishing a task at home, give that praise right away. Praise and encourage your child while the chore is in the works to get them more motivated. This works well, especially for young kids.
  • Be consistent with what you want them to do. Tell your kids what to expect them to do at home and follow through on the progress as often as necessary. That goes to say you don’t have to keep nagging – a gentle reminder would always do the trick.
  • Make a chores chart. Make a list of every job that each family member needs to do daily or weekly. To start off, ask your kids to pick up first the chores that they like to do then create a chart. Don’t forget to check whether all the tasks are age-appropriate, which needs supervision, which ones are urgent and set the deadlines. Then mark when the chore is done and place the chores chart where everyone can see it so everyone can check on the progress of each other and follow through on the assigned tasks.
Remember: You might actually find it easiest to have two charts: one for daily household chores and one for weekly household chores for easier monitoring and tracking.

Here are two more tips:

  • Be specific with your instructions. Don’t be vague when giving out instructions. Be as specific as possible on what exactly you want your child to do. Merely saying “clean your room” is not clear enough, say “put your clothes in the closet, toys in the box, make your bed and books on the shelf” may be clearer and easier for them to follow.
  • Guide your children how to do chores. Easing your kids into chores is very important. Parents should show them how to do the chore first, and step by step. Then let your child help you do the chore before letting them do it on their own. Have your child do the chore as you supervise to see if your child is capable. Once your child has mastered the chore, then your child will be ready to go and do it solo.
  • Go easy with reminders and deadlines. Here it is again: stop nagging your child and avoid shouting at all cost since this will only make them resist the task more. You don’t want to micromanage your child all the time. By the time they are at least 10 years old, trust that they already know how to take family responsibilities without being told all the time. A gentle reminder will work just fine.

Summary

Only you will know what type of housework your child is capable of doing at what age. The type of activities you assign them will have to do more with their ability rather than age. Some children will pick up motor skills and learn how to use vacuum by nine or 10 years old, while others will need more time to mature and learn more complicated house chores.

Remember to consider your child’s age, ability, and maturity when assigning housework. It is also a must that young children be taught to do chores with adult supervision so they can learn to do it properly and you as a parent could make sure they are not doing anything that could harm themselves, others or the house in general.

Chores by Age – What is appropriate for my kids?
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