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Learning Responsibility: Chores for Children of all Ages

Learning Responsibility: Chores for Children of all Ages


Every parent has a different method for keeping their house in order. They may choose to take care of the mess after bedtime or tidy up throughout the day. But no matter how each parent tackles toys on the floor or unmade beds, one thing remains the same, kids make a mess. Lots of mess. And the earlier you have them learn to pitch in, the more they will help with housework as they get older.

 Ages 2-3

Toddlers are still too young to have regular “chores”, but they can help put their toys away after use. They also need to learn where it is appropriate to play and snack, which will help keep mess and crumbs from invading your home. Gentle but stern reminders are necessary with kids this young, and there will be plenty of times your little one will clean one toy and call it day. Persistence is key.  Even though it is easier and faster to just do it yourself, teaching good habits young is the key to raising good helpers.

 Ages 4-7

When kids reach age four, they are old enough to have one or two chores. Keep the task easy and simple, such as making their bed. Older kids can help empty small wastebaskets and feed pets. It’s important to provide positive reassurance, and don’t nag. Little kids forget easily, and you don’t want to make pitching in a negative experience. At this age you are aiming to teach them that many hands make light work, and they can help mom and dad by doing their share.

 Ages 8-11

Once kids are old enough to handle regular homework, they are old enough to handle regular chores. They can put their laundry away and empty their hampers. They can load the dishwasher and sweep the floor after breakfast. Give them two to three chores, but expect them to pick up after themselves daily. It’s not just about remembering chores, but also about teaching them responsibility. Assign tougher tasks, such as loading or unloading the dishwasher on a monthly basis. If you have to change the chore schedule weekly, you may forget and your kids may not have enough time to learn how to do each job well.

 Ages 11+

When your children are in middle school, they are capable of helping on a regular basis and remembering what they are responsible for. Give them a job that needs to be done on a weekly basis, such as taking out the trash. They can wipe down bathrooms and run the vacuum. By now they should be making their beds and putting away their laundry, although they will need some reminding every now again.

 A few tips to keep kids pitching in:

  • Don’t nag.  Keep pitching in a positive experience.
  • When kids are younger than eight, expect to remind them daily about their chores.
  • Don’t overload your children with tasks.  Two to three is a good number.
  • As kids grow expect more help and give them more challenging chores.
  • Don’t remake their bed or refold their laundry.  Even when it’s not perfect, let it be.
  • Be persistent, and always remember to thank your children for their help

It’s imperative to work with your children as soon as they understand chores. You will instill good habits and raise good helpers. Making their beds will become second nature, and they will have a good understanding of how the house runs on a daily basis. They also will appreciate the work you do, and understand how difficult it is to manage everything. Start when they are young, stay persistent, and watch as they blossom into helpful and responsible young adults.

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