A household composed of parents and one or more children faces a dilemma. How do you teach your children to be responsible adults and one day head their own household? Parents are charged with introducing their children to their role in a functioning household. The younger the child, the simpler the task and the more likely it will be completed when accompanied by supervision from an adult.
It is important to make a note of your attitude when assigning chores to your children while raising them to be responsible adults. Your child will respond to how you request that the chore be done. Are you angry? Are you shouting? Do you praise them when they complete the task well? Are you consistent? Is the chore to be done weekly and you only ask every now and then? Maybe it gets done once a month. The first rule of expecting chores to be completed is to be consistent. Do you expect your four-year-old to do things like an older child? Always keep your child’s age in mind and don’t expect perfection.
Base the chore on your child’s age. Start with chores that are personal, such as keeping their room clean. Younger kids can begin with tasks like putting their toys away at the end of the day (kids age 3-6). As children grow older and gain stature and strength, they can progress to tasks with more and more complexity.
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Age Appropriate Chores for Children
- Ages 2-3 can pick up toys, dust with socks covering their hands, help make their bed, help feed pets, and put laundry in the hamper.
- Ages 4-5 are old enough to carry groceries and help put them away, clear and set the table, easy meal prep, and dusting.
- Ages 6-8 can take out the trash, fold and put away laundry, walk, feed and wash pets, and vacuum and mop.
- Ages 9-12 can help hand wash the dishes or load the dishwasher, clean the bathroom, rake leaves, operate the washer and dryer, and help wash the car.
- Ages 13-18 can wash the car, prepare grocery lists, do laundry, wash windows, cook meals, replace light bulbs and vacuum cleaner bags, and clean out the refrigerator.
Children from 8-12 years of age, should be of a height and strength to push a vacuum, dust off surfaces, fold smaller laundry items and declutter their personal space or the family space. As children age, the chores can get more complex. They can be challenged with multi-faceted chores, such as cleaning a room. A task that might consist of making a bed, vacuuming or sweeping a floor, picking up clothing, storing toys or video games, etc.
A great way to get children involved in cleaning is to engage them in a big family task, like spring cleaning. Help them see how they are an important part of the team. Make a board listing what needs to be done and assign tasks to individuals or teams of people. As each task is completed, mark it off as it is finished and celebrate its completion. This helps them grow into responsible adults.
Spring cleaning tackles a huge list of tasks for the average household. Windows may need to be washed (inside and out). Filters may need to be changed on your HVAC system. Do not assign these more complex tasks to your children, instead allow them to see you doing them so they can grasp the idea of spring cleaning more thoroughly.
Pre-teens can join you in washing the car. Over time they’ll learn all the steps necessary to clean a car properly. At some point, you’ll be able to pass that task on to your child. It can eventually be his or her sole responsibility.
Watch how your child matures. Some children have both the mental development and the physical strength to do tasks that other children their age are not capable of doing well. Base the tasks you assign your child on what he has shown you he can do. Start out working side by side with your child so you can watch and direct your child. When you are satisfied they can do the task, assign the job to them. Allow them to take responsibility for the task going forward.