Age Appropriate Chores For Children

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Do your children help out around the house? If not, perhaps they should start. Helping with household chores teaches responsibility and independence, but what are age appropriate chores for children?

Chores for Children guide

Spring is upon us. Now is the time of year you might feel like doing some ‘spring cleaning’. Don’t go it alone. Get your children involved and you’ll reap benefits far beyond a tidy home. There are quite a few ways children can help around the house for a good clean out as well as on a regular basis, even from about the age of two years old. By taking a little time to show children how to do certain jobs, they will learn how best to help you and they’ll pick up practical skills to carry them through life.  

Chores help kids learn responsibility and independence, giving them a sense of satisfaction and contribution to the family. There’s a fair amount of research that says children who are involved in household chores gain confidence as well as relationship, communication and negotiation skills. In many studies, doing chores was the best predictor of which children were more likely to become happy, healthy, successful, independent adults.

Before setting up your own ‘to do’ list for your kids, it’s a good idea to acknowledge the fact that we live in Hong Kong, where most kids have busy schedules and many families employ domestic help. Kids’ afterschool and weekend activities take up a lot of time and those who have a helper at home tend to rely on that help for most household chores. It becomes a small challenge to ensure you carve out time for chores and that you communicate your intentions to everyone in the home. But it’s important.

So let’s get to work. What jobs are suitable and at what ages can we ask our kids to do chores? 

“Your child may be able to do more than you think. Keep in mind that a child who has mastered a complicated computer game can easily run the dishwasher,” says Elizabeth Pantley, author of parenting books including Kid Cooperation: How to Stop Yelling, Nagging, and Pleading and Get Kids to Cooperate.

Chores for Younger Children

Young children can be given simple chores that involve picking up after themselves. Chores should include putting away their toys and books each day. They can also start to put their dishes away after a meal. They may like to have sticker charts to help remind them what are their chores and whether or not they’ve done all of them. A chart with pictures is helpful for young children who are not able to read yet.

Chores for children ages two to three (toddlers)

  • Put toys and books away
  • Fill pet’s food dish
  • Put clothes in hamper
  • Wipe up spills
  • Dust
  • Pile books and magazines
  • Set placemats on the dinner table

Chores for children ages four to five (preschoolers)

  • Any of the above chores, plus:
  • Make their bed
  • Empty wastebaskets
  • Bring in mail or newspaper
  • Clear table
  • Pull weeds, if you have a garden
  • Use hand-held vacuum to pick up crumbs
  • Water flowers, garden
  • Unload utensils from dishwasher
  • Wash plastic dishes at sink
  • Fix bowl of cereal
  • Set the table for meals
  • Sort clean clothes into piles for each family member, ready to fold
  • Hand you wet clothes to be hung out to dry

Chores for school-age children

At this age the responsibility with chores can increase a little but still ought to involve picking up after themselves. When they get home from school, get kids to put their shoes and backpacks away. When adding more complicated chores, be sure to show them how to do each new task.

Chores for children ages six to seven

  • Any of the above chores, plus:
  • Sort laundry
  • Sweep floors
  • Set and clear table
  • Help make and pack lunch
  • Weed and rake leaves
  • Keep bedroom tidy
  • Feed pets
  • Help hang out clothes and fold washing
  • Put away clean dishes
  • Help with choosing meals and shopping

Chores for children ages eight ton nine

  • Any of the above chores, plus:
  • Load dishwasher
  • Put away groceries
  • Vacuum
  • Help make dinner
  • Make own snacks
  • Wash table after meals
  • Put away own laundry
  • Sew buttons
  • Make own breakfast
  • Peel vegetables
  • Cook simple foods, such as toast
  • Take pet for a walk
  • Help with preparing and serving meals, with supervision
  • Clean the bathroom sink, wipe down kitchen benches, mop floors or take out rubbish

Chores for tweens

Learning to clean the bathroom, sweep the floors, and dust might be some of the tasks you add at this age. Picking up and keeping a tidy room can now be considered part of the daily routine. Tweens might like to earn an allowance for doing extra chores and this can be a good introduction to financial responsibility. Or maybe doing chores can let your tween rack up time with electronics or outings with friends.

Chores for children ages 10 and older

  • Any of the above chores, plus:
  • Unload dishwasher
  • Fold laundry
  • Clean bathroom
  • Wash windows
  • Wash car
  • Cook simple meal with supervision
  • Iron clothes
  • Do laundry
  • Baby-sit younger siblings (with adult in the home)
  • Clean kitchen
  • Change their bed sheets

Chores for teenagers

Teens can start to learn some practical life skills in preparation for the real world. Learning how to cook simple meals and doing their own laundry will help them when it’s time to leave the nest and become independent. Teens might need some extra motivation for chores and an allowance might do the trick. The allowance may also teach your teen money management.


Research

Suggests teaching kids how to do household chores early on helps make them happier, and creates better family dynamics. Tidying expert and author, Marie Kondo, suggests parents lead by example. ‘Keeping a habit of tidying up clothes, which are used every day and are clearly the kids’ own belongings, helps teach them the basic concepts of tidying up. It is ideal if you can start teaching them beginning when they are around three.’

Tips for success:

Consider age, maturity level, physical ability, and interest level when selecting the right chores for your kids.

Remember… it’s never too late to start.

Chores instill good work ethic so show by example.

Do it together – while you’re doing chores too.

Keep things simple.

Praise often.

Add some fun along the way.

Some parents use a chart to help create a visual of who is doing what and to have some accountability. 

Experts say not to give children money for doing chores unless they are doing something above and beyond.

Some parents allow screen time based on chore completion, for example, folding laundry gains you 15 mins of screen time.


Experts say not to give children money for doing chores unless they are doing something above and beyond.

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