When you’re raising your children, you want to show them the right way to do things, teach them important life lessons, and make sure they can (one day) take care of themselves properly. One great way to do this is by having them do chores at home, starting at a young age and continuing until they move out.
Chores teach kids so many real-life lessons. It teaches your kids the importance of personal responsibility, how to set a goal and reach it, and how to do certain things that will definitely improve their life as they get older.
Why your kids NEED chores
Before looking into the different chores your kids can do at various ages, let me take a moment to discuss getting your kids to do their chores in the first place and why they NEED chores.
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In the amazing book called, ” Amish Values For Your Family “, I learned so much about raising families. The author, Suzanne Woods Fisher talked about how one teacher gave her students magnets to study during class. The next day, the teacher asked the question, ” I have 6 letters in my name and I pick up things. What am I? “. She was stunned to see how many students filled in the answer to the question with the word, “MOTHER” instead of “magnet”.
We as mothers sometimes do way too much for our children and don’t expect enough from them. Yikes! It’s pretty scary to admit, but it’s the truth anyhow and a big eye-opener.
This is going to be one of the biggest struggles you will face because we as parents have a tendency to DO.ALL.THE.THINGS. We want to do it ourselves instead of asking our children to help because we know we can do it better and faster, but by doing this, you are doing your children an injustice!
Experts say that most recent generations of parents place fewer demands on our children than in previous generations.
We don’t expect enough from our kids and by doing this, we are extending our children’s adolescence.
“By not asking enough of our children, we aren’t helping them to grow up. In fact, they aren’t growing up!”
Most young adults are moving back in with their parents after college, job-hopping and prolonging the start of their own families.
Because today’s society is less mature than those of our grandparents.
Because we weren’t taught, or we aren’t teaching responsibility to our children as they did back in our grandparent’s generation.
Think about it, our grandparents worked very hard as children. Starting at a young age, boys tended the fields and crops, handled the animals, worked and built things with their two hands.
The young adolescent girls cooked meals from-scratch, cared for their younger siblings, cleaned, sewed, and did the washing with their moms.
That’s a far cry from today’s kiddos, right?
Today’s generation is so media and technology consumed.
It’s a shame and makes me sad at the number of young children I see walking around with their own cell phones, tablets, and IPads. They can spend hours on a game trying to get a high score, or spend hours on Youtube watching the latest viral videos, but don’t dare ask them to load the dishwasher or take out the trash.
Not okay my friends!
How many times have you come across a teenager who honestly didn’t know how to do a simple load of laundry or cook a basic homemade meal?
And I’m not talking about throwing a Hot Pocket in the microwave or making a packet of Top Ramen.
I’ve come across this so many times and I’ve been baffled! And I’m not the most discreet person when it comes to my facial expressions either. My mouth is closed, but my face is telling it all, ya’ll!
True Story: My Hubs grew up with 6 sisters who did absolutely everything for him. When we got married, the guy didn’t know how to cook or even do a load of laundry, and he admitted it was due to him not “ever having to”. His sisters did it all and he was never expected to do it, thus he never learned.
Great work ethics start at a young age.
I understand as you gaze at your two-year-old, the last thing you’re thinking about is them working a job, but you have to understand that most of the skills needed at your everyday job, starts at home and needs to be taught by YOU!
When you’re having your children do even the simplest of tasks, you are preparing them for the workforce and also teaching them how to take direction from those in authority.
Think about most public schools.
Nowadays, a lot of children backtalk their teachers, don’t listen to them, and are just plain out rude. Not every student, but there is a lot!
I’d bet (well I’m not the gambling or betting type, but you get the point) that if you went to the home of some of those extremely disrespectful kids, that you’d see an eye full. You’d probably see a house in disarray, or parents who work too much and spend too little time with their children, or children who spend too much time on social media/technology instead of being productive. These would also be the kids who don’t really lift a finger around the home but rely on mommy and daddy to do it for them.
I’m not saying that kids who do chores will be perfect, and I’m not saying that every disrespectful child doesn’t do chores, but there is some connection for sure.
There is much respect taught and learned from doing chores around the home as a child and it’s up to us to teach our children.
True Story: I was at a friend’s house one time, and her almost 3 year old had thrown her cheese wrapper on the living room floor. When I saw the wrapper laying on the ground I said, ” Hey girl, go throw your trash in the trash can 🙂 “, and she literally looked at me and said, ” No!”. Her mom then “tried” telling her to throw it away, and she also told her mother, “No!”. Her mom then tried to bribe her with candy to throw away her trash. Are you kidding me?! Needless to say, her mom didn’t do much about it and pretty much wrote it off like this was a common occurrence. I don’t even know that she ever threw the trash wrapper away either because I left.
Let me just go on the record to say that it is NOT the school’s job to raise your children and teach them respectful ways.
For those who send their kids to public or private school, you can’t expect to let your kids tell you, “No!” and not listen to you, and then send them off to school and expect them to listen to their teachers or be respectful to their teachers. Nope, it’s not gonna happen! Sorry, Charlie!
What that says about you as a parent is that you don’t care about your children and you don’t want them to excel or be successful in life. They won’t excel if you don’t train up your child in the way they should go.
Please, my dear, dear readers, let’s stop this cycle and be responsible parents and raise great members of society! You have a choice and you CAN make a difference in the world by raising good, respectable children, who will turn into good, respectable adults one day.
Where has the level of respect gone? Has it stopped as the generations have stopped requiring as much responsibility from their children?
Just some food for thought and now I’m done ranting.
Tips for Encouraging Kids to do Chores
First, we are going to go over 5 tips for encouraging your kids to do chores and then we’ll dive into the age-appropriate chore ideas.
Now, when I say “encourage” your kids to do chores, I don’t mean bribe them and beg them to do their chores.
Are you kidding me?!
YOU are the parent, right? Do not beg your children to clean up or help, you tell them once, maybe twice, and expect it to be done.
If not… well then you choose the proper consequences in your home.
Once you know what chores your child is able to handle at his or her current age this will be easy. Just remember to not give up on your child, because these methods are going to help your child understand that chores are part of their personal responsibility and not just something mom or dad will do if they don’t do it themselves.
One of the most important things to remember when you want your kids to do their chores is to remain consistent. Don’t do the cleaning up for them if they take too long or don’t want to do it.
If you told your pre-teen daughter to put her folded laundry away, leave it there until she does it. If you notice it’s still not done after a certain period of time, apply the consequences of not listening, and make sure you see them through. Your kids will soon learn to do things straight away and that they need to keep up with their responsibilities asked of them.
Start Chores at a Young Age
A common mistake many people make because they aren’t aware of what kids can do at certain ages is waiting too long to have kids do chores. Even kids as young as 2 or 3 can do certain things that will get them used to the practice of doing chores. Start them young, and it will be easier to get them to graduate to bigger chores as they get older. As children grow, so do their responsibilities.
Don’t Worry About It NOT Being Perfect
Your child is not going to do the chores perfectly every time, or the exact way you want it, but it’s the effort that is most important. Now, don’t excuse or overlook laziness or rushing through a chore half-heartedly because they just want to get it done.
Don’t accept that.
But if your child is truly trying their best, accept their efforts.
You can supervise some of these tasks so that you know if something needs to be re-done when they leave the room, such as a child doing dishes and not cleaning something all the way (this happens a lot in our home).
However, with things like folding laundry and making the bed, don’t worry if it isn’t perfectly straight and neat. If you judge them for this, they will lose all motivation and might become self-conscience about certain tasks and whether or not they can ever do it right.
The best responses for correcting work that needs to be redone or for work that isn’t finished to your real expectations are:
“Great job at the dishes! Just remember to get all the food off the dishes before placing them in the dishwasher next time, because food won’t get scrubbed off in the dishwasher.”
“Your bed-making skills are getting better and better. Today I noticed that your blanket was a lot straighter than yesterday’s and here, let me show you how to get it even straighter for next time!”.
Do you see? You use your own situations and make the corrections needed, positive.
Keep Praising Your Child
Make sure your kids know that they are doing a good job. Children really want to do good and it helps tremendously when you can recognize their efforts. Every time they do a chore on their own without being asked, do it correctly, or keep up with the chore chart you have created, praise them and let them know they did a good job. You will be surprised at how much this encourages them to do more!
Do chore charts really work?
I would say a big YES! Having a chore chart helps keep everything in order and let’s the children know what their chores are for each day without you having to tell them what to do. They can grab their chore charts and get to work!
Chores For Kids
When your child reaches about 2 or 3 years old, they are definitely old enough to start doing chores. This is a good age to get them started so they can begin learning personal responsibility. Keep in mind they won’t be able to do everything themselves, but it’s a great age to have them help you with things and start teaching them the ways.
Two and Three-Year-Olds
You can have your younger children start helping to pick up their toys when they’re done playing and start helping you make the bed. They can also start carrying their folded laundry to their room, helping load up the washing machine, place smaller things in the dishwasher like silverware and plastic tableware, etc. They won’t be able to completely do everything on their own, but let them assist you in many tasks and they will soon learn.
Kids at this age should also be able to help with spills and also can be given a rag to help assist in cleaning surfaces like countertops, cabinets, tables, trim, and windowsills.
Dinner time in our household is an “all hands on deck” affair. Everyone helps set the table, from our youngest, up to the eldest. The youngest can be the one to place the napkins or silverware at the table, while the older kids carry dishes and fill up drinks to bring to the table.
We also make grocery day an “all hands on deck” affair. Everyone helps assist in putting away groceries. Even when our youngest was 2-years-old, she helped place things like produce in the fridge drawers and our older boys help with everything else.
Make normal, everyday “chores” a whole family deal, even for the youngest members!
Four and Five-Year-Olds
As they get a little older, they can start doing more things on their own. This includes doing more of making the bed alone, being responsible for picking up things in the living room and bedroom, and more cleaning.
Children of this age should also be able to help with some things in the kitchen, such as stirring or putting dishes in the dishwasher alone. They can help outdoors by watering plants, raking leaves and putting them into bags, putting away groceries, putting away laundry and taking dirty dishes from the table, and putting them in the sink.
Six and Seven-Year-Olds
By the time your child reaches first or second grade, they should already be comfortable with doing chores and on their way to being capable of doing even more around the house. This includes chores they have already started doing but now can do without supervision.
Your children should now be able to make their own beds without supervision. It’s okay if it isn’t perfect, but this is a good age to stop helping them.
Here is a list of other tasks and chores kids at this age can handle:
- Writing thank-you notes
- Vacuuming, sweeping, and mopping
- Taking out the trash
- Folding laundry
- More food prep, with your supervision
- Cleaning up their room unassisted
- More independent cleaning of the bathroom
Eight, Nine and Ten-Year-Olds
This is a great age because your child is starting to become way more independent. They are helping with laundry and dishes, and hopefully making their bed and cleaning their room each day. You can also add a few more chores, including preparing easy meals completely on their own, washing the car, and harder yard work.
Our 8-year-old goes out and hooks up the hose to the sprinkler and waters the different areas of the garden. He also likes to drive the lawnmower, edge the lawn, and shape bushes and hedges.
This is also a great time to start teaching your child about being responsible with their money and making great financial decisions, even with their two and three dollars.
Chores For Your Pre-Teen
By the time your child reaches their pre-teen stage, which is between 11 and 12 years old, they are doing many things on their own. This is the age where you should expect your son and daughter to start doing their own laundry. Yes, let them do it on their own!
You can still supervise them to make sure they use the right amount of soap and select the right setting, but for the most part, it is a chore they can handle on their own, definitely!
Pre-teens can also do the following things themselves:
- Dust wood furniture
- Vacuum and mop all rooms
- Change light bulbs
- Change their bed sheets
- Do more yard work, such as pulling weeds or mowing the lawn
- Preparing simple family meals
- Cleaning windows and mirrors
- Doing the dishes without the help
Teenager Chore Responsibilities
When you have teenagers in your home, you are starting to prepare them for adulthood. You want to teach them as many basic skills as you can before they reach 18 so that by the time they go to college or move out on their own, they know how to take care of themselves and their home properly. This is done through various chores around the house.
For 13 year-olds, you want to start introducing them to life skills, in addition to the chores they have already been doing. Of course keep having them make their bed each morning, do the dishes, and continue working on their own laundry.
However, they should also start doing some things they will need to handle on their own as an adult, such as replacing the bag in the vacuum cleaner, ironing their clothes, mowing the lawn, and possibly even doing some minor repairs around the house. Aside from changing a light bulb, a 13-year-old can also help with many home improvement needs with supervision.
14 and 15 Year-Olds
Continuing with these type of lessons, have your 14 and 15 year-olds do more home chores as well.
For example, you can have your son start preparing more elaborate meals from recipes he finds and has him do the grocery shopping for ingredients while you’re at the grocery store. Hey, it’s a good thing for boys to learn to cook just as well as girls! Their future wives will thank you one day.
You can let your daughter start babysitting for neighbor kids or wash the outdoor windows in your home. These are life skills that help your teens take care of themselves.
16 and Up
By the time your teens reach 16 or 17 years old, they should be doing everything you are doing. This includes being able to clean out the refrigerator, do any housework or yard work, wash cars, make a grocery list and shop on their own, and do deep cleaning around the house. This is also a good age to really start teaching your teens about financial budgeting, although it’s great to start this at a younger age and get them accustomed to financial budgeting.
Continue introducing new chores to your kids and add them to the chore chart as needed. They shouldn’t be doing all household duties, but helping out so they can learn how to do things on their own. By the time your teens move out of the house, you can feel confident in knowing that they know what they are doing and can take care of themselves properly.