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Kid's chores

Updated on September 18, 2014

Doing chores is not the norm in our house

I am not an expert in child raising nor am I particularly consistent as a parent. However, there comes a time when enough is enough and this is it!

I realize that the reason that my child does not do chores on a consistent basis is my fault and it is time to deal with it. I have listed age appropriate chores for different groups but I am heading straight to the ones for the child who is ten. Lots of things are going to change and I will be changing with them. After all, I can't expect the boy to do the work if I am not willing to be a participant.

So why do I want him to do chores when I have never really made an effort to engage him in the activity? I will not turn over a young man to any women who is not versed in all the things that are traditionally considered "woman's work". By the time he takes a wife, he will be properly prepared to maintain a home on his own.

Resolve is the easy part. Getting cooperation will be the hard part but there are just somethings that have to be done. We have been remiss in our duties and that is being corrected.

Chores for children 2 to 4 years old

Children this age love to help and be involved in big people things. This is the best time to teach children about chores and make it a lifetime habit. There are many things that they can do and still think it's fun.

They can:

Help set the table with napkins or tableware. This is the time they learn where the knives, forks and spoons belong.

Put away their toys with adult help

Put their laundry in the hamper

Help feed pets

Make their bed - It will not be perfect but it doesn't matter. What matters is their sense of accomplishment.

When they make a mess, let them help clean up. .

Children love dusting with socks. Slip them over their hands and everything from 2 feet down will be cleaned.

Let them try mopping. You may only get a square foot mopped but that's one less for you.

Make putting clothes in the hamper more fun

Whitmor Kid's Collapsible Hamper, Frog
Whitmor Kid's Collapsible Hamper, Frog

Having equipment that the children like makes doing chores easier. Who wouldn't want to feed dirty clothes to a frog? This will take a lot of abuse and pop right back up.


4 to 7 Years Old

4-years-old is a crossover age. Depending on maturity, some 4-year-olds will be able and willing to do additional chores. The chores that they have already learned should be included. This is the age to start with a chart to allow the child to measure their progress. Add the bigger things to the chart like loading the dishwasher or in our house, doing the dishes after dinner.

Add new responsibilities.

  1. Learn to water plants - Child at this age really enjoy time spent in the garden especially on hot summer days when they are allowed to water the plants. Give them a rake their size and they can clean an area faster than the adults. This is also a great time to teach them how to plant vegetables and flowers because they will take a personal interest in their growth.
  2. Make their bed
  3. Load the dishwasher
  4. Sweep and wipe up messes
  5. Help with yard work
  6. Help clear table
  7. Dusting
  8. Help with food preparation
  9. Unload groceries and help stock shelves
  10. Take out the trash

Help children who can't reach the sink

Rubbermaid Roughneck Step Stool, Bisque (FG420087BISQU)
Rubbermaid Roughneck Step Stool, Bisque (FG420087BISQU)

One of the drawbacks for children who just can't wait to wash dishes is that they can't reach the sink. A simple stool that they can transport themselves solves the problem. We've had one of these for years and it has stood the test of time.


6 to 10 Years Old

This is where we are starting - UGH - big mistake on my part

Everything that was listed above which should have been 2nd nature by now. We will be adding the following chores.

Clean room - not throw it in the closet or stashed in a corner hidden away from view.

Set the table - Knives, forks, spoons, napkins, plates, and glasses. We have mastered this one and he knows the placement of the knives and forks.

Dust - not with socks but a real dusting with Pledge as needed. This includes the legs to the desk, the tops of the electronic equipment and all flat surfaces.

Vacuum - not asking for the whole house but at least his bedroom

Feed the dog twice a day

Help making dinner. There are some things he already know how to cook and he uses the stove and microwave with supervision.

Put the dirty clothes in the washer, add the soap and turn it on. Put the wet clothes in the dryer. Fold and put away his clothes.

Wash the dishes or load and empty the dishwasher

Chore charts

It is almost as hard to remember a chore chart as it is to make the kids do their chores. The four below were the ones we debated over in our quest to find something that we all could live with. We decided that we like the fridge magnets because they were touchable and movable which made them interactive. All of them are good choices and up to each family how they want to track the progress.

What's your stand on allowance?

As adults, we work for reward, whether it be monetary or the satisfaction of a job well done. I think that children also need to learn that working well gives them rewards too. However, I am not sure whether an allowance should be based on chores or grades or other criteria. I need your help.

Should children be paid for doing chores?

11 Years old and older

Children at this age should be doing these things without being told. Still it doesn't hurt to remind them and nudge a little if necessary. Every member of the family should pitch in to make life pleasant for all.

  1. Take out the garbage
  2. Do their own laundry - No more, "I have nothing to wear" and it's the parents fault. Responsibility begins here.
  3. Cook or create their own snacks or mini-meal. While not strictly a chore, children 11 years up and older should be able to fend for themselves.
  4. Clean their room - this should include dusting and vacuuming but children don't see that it is part of the process. List them separately if these are activities you want them to complete.
  5. Make their bed. This needs to be spelled out as a specific chore because children do not see this as part of cleaning their room.
  6. Vacuum room
  7. Dust room
  8. Shovel snow - this is said tongue in cheek because as I write this, it may snow here today. The last time is snowed was four years ago and nothing stuck to the ground. This is Southern California where snow is a novelty but for families with children where it does snow, this would seem like a reasonable chore.
  9. Yard maintenance - list specific task that are included in this such as mowing the lawn or raking the leaves. If there is garden involved, water plants and pulling weeds should be spelled out.
  10. Feed the pets - Make sure your child knows that feeding the pets also includes water. They make think they are done when the food is in the bowl but the only thing that will be done is the pet if they don't have water. Food and water are not separate chores when feed a pet.
  11. Clear the table and do the dishes, whether it be by hand or loading and unloading the dishwasher.

Thoughts of families and chores

Children learn as they grow and by the time they are teenagers, these activities should be something that is no longer considered a chore but being an active member of the family. No one wants to create a Cinderella or a Cinderfella but it is fair to expect reasonable responsibilities. Chores should not interfere with schoolwork but should be considered as important. Extra-curricular activities should also be included in a child's life but not at the expense of the welfare of the family. It's a balancing act that parents have dealt with for years and will for years to come.

Comments welcome.

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    • capriliz lm profile image

      capriliz lm 

      7 years ago

      Kids do need to learn that working responsibly and hard will bring rewards. I grew up in a family where both parents work, so we definitely had chores.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      7 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Great idea for a lens. It's important for children to realize that someone has to do the chores, and it's better if the whole family joins in. Teaching them from an early age that if they keep their room tidy, it makes less work, is very important too.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      7 years ago from Central Florida

      I know that many parents feel it is easier to just do it yourself, rather than stand over the kid to show them the right way. Being one of six children, we had to learn to help around the house. Mom had to pull me away from whatever I was reading, but I eventually learned to cook and sew and other household tasks.


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