Kids and Chores: What They Can Do By Age and Why Chores are Good for Kids
Believe me or not, but some people enjoy chores… yes I said that right, enjoy them! I find myself enjoying some chores and some, not so much. You know who tends to like them? Kids! Yes, that’s right… kids tend to like chores and you can use this to your benefit and sanity!
If you look up the definition of chore, it will mention something along the lines of a routine task, or a small or odd job, which is true, but it will also mention that it is often an unpleasant one, which is also true. So, with that, I say let’s get rid of the negative connotation and make them pleasant and fun! One thing you can do is call them “jobs” for your kids. Kids tend to like to have jobs.
Besides the obvious reason of reducing your workload, why else would we encourage you to involve your kids in completing chores? Again, I am so glad that you asked because there are a few good reasons to have your child participate in chores, or as I say jobs. If your child is given jobs, it helps them to feel like they are part of a team and that they have something positive to contribute to the team and the family. It can also help to promote and encourage them to be good citizens as they age. It teaches them that they are capable. It teaches them the concept of and value of work. It teaches them responsibility. I am sure it teaches them more than that, but you get where I am going with this, giving kids jobs at home is a good thing!
When deciding what jobs to give to your child, it is important to understand that you know your child’s ability better than anyone else, especially me because chances are, I haven’t met your child, although I would love to! If you want me to meet your child you can look into our summer camps to see what awesome opportunities we can provide to your little camper!
We can give you recommendation to use as a guide for what jobs your child can do at each age, but you know what your child is able to do. Plan accordingly, if you think they can do more, don’t be afraid to challenge them. If you think a job is too hard, don’t be afraid to help them with it or give them something easier. We want them to be successful in their jobs, especially if you want them to continue participating in jobs.
Here are some job recommendations by age:
Ages 2-3 years old
Kids at this age are in the developmental stage of autonomy vs. shame and doubt, meaning that they need to start to develop a sense of personal control over physical skills and a sense of independence. They will feel a sense of shame and doubt in their ability if they experience failure, which means that they may a hard time participating in these types of jobs if they continue to experience failure, so make sure to help them be successful. At this age, you should be supervising them as they do their jobs to make sure they are doing it correctly and in a manner that will be successful, as well as for safety.
- Pick up/ put away toys
- Help to unload the dishwasher (safe items like plastic containers, lightweight items, unbreakable items)
- Clear plates/bowls/cups from table after meals
- Collect dirty clothes and put them into a hamper
- Transfer clothes from washer to dryer – kids tend to like this one!
- Match socks
- Put folded clothes away into drawers that they can reach
- Make bed (maybe a bit sloppy, but they can put their blanket and pillows on the bed)
- Dust with a feather duster or microfiber rag
- Broom the floor (you will most likely have to help them get into corners and under items)
- Wipe cabinets
- Wipe baseboards
- Wipe table tops and counter tops
Ages 4-5 years old
Kids at this age are in the developmental stage of initiative vs. guilt. They need to begin asserting control and power over their environment, such as how clean it is! When they are successful during this stage, they begin to feel a sense of purpose, and they can begin to feel a sense of guilt if they experience failure during this stage. As you start to introduce more jobs, remember to supervise them until they are safe and successful in the job. (Tip: kids at this age love stickers and sticker charts – just saying!)
- Any previously mentioned jobs
- Set and clear the table
- Load the dishwasher, careful of knives though!
- Wash dishes (with supervision)
- Carry and help put groceries away
- Help to cook meals or snacks (small simple snacks can be done independently)
- Take sheets off of bed
- Sort laundry
- Fold towels
- Take out recycling
- Clean windows (you may have to redo some of them)
- Wipe out bathroom sinks
- Pull weeds
- Water plants
Ages 6-8 years old
Kids at this age are in the developmental stage of industry vs. inferiority. They have increased social and academic demands that they have to learn to cope with, and successes leads to a sense of competence. Failures during this stage may lead to a sense of feeling inferior. Heads up – This is the age that your child may be more likely to view jobs as unpleasant chores, yuck! This may be the time to assess what they enjoy doing and what they don’t and start to incorporate that into what jobs you give them. However, I encourage you to give them jobs that they don’t like as well. It starts to reinforce responsibility and work ethics. While we want to keep the idea of jobs fun and enjoyable, it is okay to use the trusted old “No ____ until you finish your jobs” tactic.
- Any previously mentioned jobs
- Help to cook meals and snacks that include: washing produce, find/gather ingredients, simple cutting with a safe knife (butter knife)
- Clean microwave
- Hang laundry
- Fold laundry
- Collect garbage
- Get mail
- Rake leaves
Ages 9-11 years old
Kids at this age are still in the industry v. inferiority developmental stage. They tend to be more resistant to jobs as they get older. Keep plugging along… you’re doing great.
- Any previously mentioned jobs
- Make meals
- Take garbage/ recycling to the curb
- Wash/ dry clothes
- Clean toilets
- Mop floors
- Vacuum out cars
Ages 12-15 years old
Pre-teens and teenagers at this age are in the developmental stage of identity vs. role confusion. They are trying really hard to find their own identity and sense of self and if not successful during this stage, they can experience role confusion – or a weak sense of self. More push back with job completion is common during this age, especially as their social lives begin to form and develop.
- Plan a meal
- Make a full meal
- Clean tub/ shower
- Clean out fridge/ freezer
- Mow yard (this is an important one to know your child’s ability really well before starting this job)
- Wash car
- Supervise younger children’s chores
- Get creative, maybe you have other jobs you want them to complete that isn’t listed!
Again, these are just recommendation, they are not set in stone and you need to pick jobs that your child is able to be successful in. You can help as little or as much as needed to start each job, but they should be able to successfully complete the jobs independently after a few trials, otherwise, it may be too difficult. You also need to make sure to pick jobs that you are comfortable with them completing, especially jobs that include knives, like meal prepping and dishwashers, or mowing the lawn. I like to make jobs fun! Play music, dance around while dusting and using the broom, race to see who can do something faster, or who can get more dirt than the other… anything to make it fun! Why not because otherwise it becomes a chore, right?!
Thank you for reading my blog!
– Madonna Smith, MOT, OTR/L