Age-appropriate chores for children

Is my child ready for chores? What chores is she capable of doing? How should I go about it?

If these are the questions going through your mind, then you stumbled upon the right post. Read on to find out more about age-appropriate chores for kids.

First of all, allocating chores to your kids helps in their development. Kids can start taking on household chores as early as two years. However, there is a disclaimer. Different kids develop differently. That’s why there are two-year-olds who can communicate perfectly and there are those that can’t.

This list should simply be used as a guide as it reflects the types of tasks that a majority of kids in these age ranges are capable of doing.

Keeping in mind that your child won’t know how to do all of these chores, a little guidance is necessary.

Some of these chores help children learn certain life skills that are very important. Some of these skills include good communication, teamwork, time management and so much more.

Also note that learning ceratin life skills is a process and takes time, so don’t expect perfection from your child the first few times they are doing it.

Depending on the child’s age, allocable tasks vary on a wide range. Here are ideas of what is possible at what ages:

          Ages 2-3 years

Engaging your child in simple manual chores improves their gross motor skills. They also learn to identify where things belong.

Some of the chores that fall in this category include:

  1. Letting your child dress herself
  2. Putting silverware in the dishwasher
  3. Fetching diapers
  4. Bringing in the newspaper
  5. Helping in making the bed (at least pulling the covers up)
  6. Helping in the feeding of animals
  7. Putting toys away
  8. Pairing up socks

These chores help them learn how to follow simple instructions. You can kick things up a notch by making a game out of it. For instance, telling your child “I bet I can put these away faster than you” instills a competitive spirit in them and gets them to complete the task even faster.

Other chores like putting toys and trash in the bin, cleaning toys, sweeping, mopping a small area, pulling weeds, dusting, emptying light trash cans, wiping up spills equips your child with a sense of cleanliness. This will, in the long run, help them become responsible, clean and orderly once they get a place of their own.

Some chores like sorting clothes by color (putting all the pinks together, all the blacks together and all the whites together) help in your child’s sensory development. This is achieved when they are able to distinguish different colors and focusing on one.

Children in this age bracket are copycats. They like doing what other people are doing. That’s why your kids should be present you do housework. Let them learn from watching you.

         Ages 4-5 years

Children in this age bracket can get ready by themselves. Getting ready encompasses many things. It includes dressing self, making own bed, brushing teeth and so much more.

You may use a visual checklist to help your child get ready in the morning. The pictures will help them develop self-care routines like putting on pajamas, going to the bathroom, brushing teeth and getting ready for bed. This will also help them start understanding time.

At this age, introducing table time is very important. Having your child follow you around the table helps them comprehend the concept of in, on or under. The fork goes on top of the napkin, or the juice goes inside the glass. They also get to know how to set the table and learn about clearing dishes from the table.

Introduce Switcharoo. This is when you encourage your child to invite a friend or sibling over then mobilize them to do a chore like putting away toys in a storage bin in turns. This encourages interaction and helps them grow socially.

It also helps kids appreciate the concept of teamwork. When a child does a chore and completes it partnering with another child, they learn to appreciate teamwork.

Reminding your child to close what he/she opens once they’re done helps them practice opening and closing containers. Using small jars or storage containers for crayons, craft supplies, and small toys is a good way to keep organized and help your child work on sorting skills.

A child at this age is capable of cutting their own food. Encourage your child to help in the kitchen in activities like stirring, ripping lettuce or drying dishes. Take a step further and let them pour, cut and mash food. For instance, your child could help you mash bananas for banana bread. Engaging them in these activities helps in nurturing an all-rounded child.

Other appropriate chores suitable for children in this age bracket include; making their own bed, helping in carrying and putting away groceries, retrieving the mail and washing the car and cleaning the interior. Tasks like watering plants, raking the yard, dusting and sweeping the patio helps your child appreciate the importance of keeping the environment clean.

In a nutshell, these are the chores that 3-4-year-olds can do:

  1. Dressing up by themselves
  2. Making their own bed
  3. Brushing teeth
  4. Getting ready for bed
  5. Helping set the table
  6. Helping clearing dishes from the table
  7. Putting toys away
  8. Opening and closing containers by themselves
  9. Cutting their own food
  10. Helping out in the kitchen e.g ripping lettuce
  11. Carrying and putting away groceries
  12. Retrieving the mail
  13. Helping in cleaning the car
  14. Watering plants
  15. Sweeping the patio

           Age 6-12 years

Children between these ages can be given more independent but still supervised chores. They can carry out these chores comfortably:

  1. Make their own beds
  2. straighten up the house and make it look neat
  3. Wash, dry and put away dishes
  4. Clean the bathroom completely
  5. Take out the trash
  6. Help wash the car
  7. Use the washer and dryer
  8. Strip and change beds.
  9. Get their own snack from the fridge
  10. Get the correct silverware
  11. Eat and clean up their snack on their own.

Due to being exposed to kitchen chores, your child can now start cooking simple foods using simple recipes and make their own school lunches, under supervision of course. These tasks mold and make your child responsible.

Daily tasks like ironing clothes, polishing shoes, washing, hanging and folding laundry are perfected over time. You can also engage your child in yard work, using the vacuum cleaner, sweeping and mopping and taking care of pets (cleaning cages and feeding them). Enabling them to maintain and care for things instills a sense of responsibility in them.

            Age 13 and above

Consider your child very much capable of performing and accomplishing a wide variety of tasks at this age. Your child is now in a position to do all the chores mentioned above with perfection.

In addition, they are able to perform these tasks:

  1. Changing light bulbs
  2. Doing laundry functions
  3. Replacing the vacuum cleaner bag
  4. Cleaning windows
  5. Mending and repairing clothes
  6. Mowing the lawn
  7. Trimming the yard
  8. Cleaning the stove and oven
  9. Preparing a meal
  10. Making grocery lists and shopping for groceries
  11. Helping to paint

At this point, the execution of chores becomes a norm and routine for the child. All these tasks can be performed with ease.

The Value of chores for children

Everyone wants to feel needed and knowing that you are making a contribution somewhere makes us feel important. The same principle also applies to kids.

Engaging them in household chores not only fosters a sense of responsibility but also gives them a sense of fulfillment. Always ensure that your child makes some sort of positive contribution to the family.

Engaging your children in chores also gives them an opportunity to learn new skills. It gives them the knowhow to approach and execute a task that is totally new by relating it to a task they had earlier done. Chores equip children with a set of skills that help them in their day to day activities. So chores make them smarter, who wouldn’t want that for their kids?!

Chores let your child practice functioning, motor, sensory and communication skills. Think about all the movement, direction following, talking, touching, seeing and other actions children use when they accomplish the mentioned tasks. Interaction with other kids while performing chores also improves their verbal skills.

Pitfalls to avoid when it comes to chores

1. Desist from delaying.

You may think your child is too young for chores, but they may be more capable than you think. It’s actually very natural to feel skeptical about making two or three-year-olds do chores. That’s because they are really young, and they are still very tiny, but believe me, they are capable of doing small tasks. Kids can do a lot of chores at an early stage. As a parent, you may hold back too long because you think they ought to be ready first. Just don’t wait too long. Start with simple chores and move on from there.

2. Don’t insist on perfection.

Keep in mind that no one is perfect, and have a more relaxed approach to how your kids do their chores. Don’t be impatient. Otherwise, you might end up jumping in and doing the chore for them, which undermines the whole point. Be patient and give them time to accomplish what they had set out to do.

3. Don’t be inconsistent.

If your kids aren’t expected to regularly follow through with their chores. Sometimes they may start putting chores off in the hope that someone else will do them for them. Don’t tire to push your child to complete a certain task. If toys have to be put away every time the kids are done playing with them, then that’s what they should do every day. No excuses.

4. Don’t be stingy with praise.

You want to build positive momentum with young children. This means giving them positive reinforcement whenever they achieve a milestone. You don’t have to wait until the chore is done. Shower your child with praises and encourage the child while the chore is in progress. This motivates them to carry on.

Final Thoughts

You are not a bad parent for wanting your kids to start doing chores. Generally, chores are great for kids. They get smarter, and you get the much-needed help. Everybody wins! Or what do you think? Let me know!

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