|It is important to teach responsibility to children in the home. They need to know that they have certain things that are expected of them. Responsibility and work ethic are important things to instill in your children, in order for them to feel they have worth and to gain skills necessary to succeed in adulthood. Also, it has been shown in studies that children, including toddlers, who have household responsibilities have greater self-esteem and less overall behavioral problems.One of the biggest questions that is asked by parents is what chores are appropriate for a child at what age. Well, there is no set answer to that question. All children are different, and some develop physically and mentally at a different rate than other children. However, for most children, you can expect them to do something within a certain age-range, meaning if you have a five year old, it’s very possible they can accomplish tasks that would be expected of a 2 to 3 year old, and may be able to accomplish something a 7 year old could do. Just keep each child’s individual abilities in mind when assigning chores and be ready to adjust them if needed.
Another hint for chore assignment is a buddy-system. Have a younger child help an older child (or you) do the chores for a few weeks. Once they have learned the ropes, so to speak, allow them to try it on their own. Remember, as with any new job, there is a period of adjustment and learning. Don’t expect a perfect job the first time out. Over a few week period, you should see improvement and, hopefully, mastery of the job.
If you are still unsure what a child can accomplish at a certain age, here are some general guidelines as to what chores/tasks are appropriate at what age. As mentioned before, these are just suggestions and you may find your child can do these task earlier/later than mentioned. These skills may also be dependent on motor skill development, so please keep that in mind for your child’s safety. Remember, ultimately, you are the best judge of what your child can do and when.
9 to 24 months
- Simple errands (using easy directions), such as: “bring mommy a diaper”, “put this is the trashcan”
- Putting dirty clothes in a basket/hamper.
- Simple help with groceries, such as: putting items in shopping cart, helping put items on the check-out conveyor, handing items to you to be put away at home.
- Picking up toys and putting in toy box (don’t really expect them to sort and organize too much at this age)
- Yard work, such as picking up trash and toys.
- Wiping up small spills and messes with a napkin or washcloth.
Two to Three Years (in addition to chores previously mentioned)
- Putting shoe/coat in proper place
- Slightly more complicated errands (continue to use easy directions), such as: “throw these clothes into the hamper”, “put this dirty cup in the sink”. Child should be able to attempt a chore when asked to.
- Toilet training
- Wash hands with help
- Brush teeth (may need assistance)
- Helping with laundry, such as: helping sort dirty clothes by color, handing clothes to mom to put in washer, transferring clothes from dryer into basket.
- Picking up toys and books, beginning skills of learning to put items in their proper place
- Cleaning up after himself/herself after meals (i.e. taking dishes to sink, helping clean-off table)
- Carrying light-weight groceries in from car
- Put books and magazines in a rack.
- Helping to set table (napkins, plates, and silverware)
- Help feed pets
- Dust with socks on their hands
Three to Four Years (in addition to chores previously mentioned)
- Helping to water plants/garden
- Wash hands (without assistance)
- Brush teeth (without assistance)
- Pick up toys and put in proper place
- Put dirty clothes into clothes hamper
- Normal daily routines (such as getting dressed, breakfast, etc. in morning; bath, prayers, bed in the evening)
- Simple but regular responsibilities, such as getting the mail, keeping room neat, putting their dirty clothes in hamper
- Helping wash the car
- Helping put up groceries in proper place
- Help cooking and preparing food (with adult supervision)
Four to Five Years (in addition to chores previously mentioned)
- Assist in making bed
- Feed and basic care for pet
- Put away clean clothes (children may still struggle with folding “properly” as this is an emerging skill)
- Set out clothes for the next day
- Simple vacuuming/sweeping.
- Share toys with friends (practice courtesy)
Five to Six Years (in addition to chores previously mentioned)
- Sharpen pencils
- Make bed/change sheets (with minimal assistance)
- Set table by self (at this age, they still should not be handling sharp knives, etc.)
- Set out backpack, shoes etc (whatever is needed for school)
- Learn to be polite, courteous, and to share; respect others.
- Help clean out the car
- Keep room tidy
Six to Seven Years (in addition to chores previously mentioned)
- Make bed/change sheets (without assistance)
- Wash dishes with help from mommy
- Fold and put away clean clothes
- Set out clothes for the next day
- Set out backpack, shoes, etc (whatever is needed for school)
- Clean room
- Unsupervised responsibilities (washing out trash cans, etc.).
- Make pour own drink, get own condiments, etc.
- Simple help with younger siblings (changing diapers, watching him/her while mom showers, helping with bath)
- Dress on own and choose outfit for the day.
- Learn to tie shoes.
- Answer the telephone and begin to dial the phone.
- Pay for small purchases.
- Hang up own clothes in the closet.
- Pulling weeds and simple raking
- Carry own lunch money and notes back to school.
- Start remembering to do homework on own
Eight to Ten Years (in addition to chores previously mentioned)
- Care for self and simple first aid, such as: putting a band-aid on their cut, icebag on bump.
- Prepare simple meals, such as: sandwiches for lunch, salad for dinner, preparing drinks
- Learning to use washer/dryer with supervision
- Increased responsibilities for younger siblings (dressing infants/toddlers, entertaining them for longer periods, helping with school work)
- Complete responsibility for their room on a daily basis
- Cleaning yard
- More difficult cleaning projects (scrubbing floors, etc.)
- Saving and donating (if children receive an allowance)
- Bathing on own (do check on child, but constant supervision should not be needed)
- Help others with their work when asked
- Help make decisions when shopping for self and household
- Fold blankets
- Simple sewing (buttons, hemming rips, etc.)
- Clean up animal “messes”
- Pick fruit off trees
- Assist in household projects/repairs (painting, etc.)
- Write thank-you notes
- Feeding baby and younger siblings
- Cross streets unassisted
- Do chores without a reminder
- Handle self properly when in public places alone or with peers
Eleven to Twelve Years (in addition to chores previously mentioned)
- Join outside organizations, attend meetings, follow rules, etc.
- Being responsible for own schedule (homework, appointments, etc)
- Help put siblings to bed and dress them
- Respect others’ property
- Help with yard work, including use of yard tools
- Buy own “treats” with personal money
- Help with car maintenance
Thirteen Years and Older (in addition to chores previously mentioned)
- Help in making decisions about self, such as how late he/she should stay up during the week, what time he/she should come home from friends’ house, etc.
- Responsibility for preparing family meals
- Social and health awareness (exercise, hygiene, etc.)
- Replace light bulbs and vacuum cleaner bags
- Wash windows
- Clean out refrigerator and other kitchen appliances
- Prepare grocery lists