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Age Appropriate Chores for Children

Updated on February 18, 2013

It seems that many people these days have forgotten to have their children do chores around the house. I am a firm believer in having the kids do chores to help make the house run, but unfortunately I am one of the few people I know that requires their kids to help. It is hard to think back to my early childhood and remember what chores I did at a very young age, but I know I did them.

I think part of the problem is that parents remember how they hated chores when they were children therefore they don't want to impose such things on their children. I think another part of the problem is smaller family sizes. When I just had one or two children it was still fairly easy to do everything myself. It was certainly easier at times. As our family grew and there was more and more for me to do it became necessary to have the kids pitch in and help. I am so glad I decided to require that at a young age, because they now all have chores that they do on a regular basis. Yes they sometimes complain, but they do them and they do them well because they know it is required and they have had lots of practice.

Toddlers love to help! Start at this age and things will go a lot smoother. Any small thing that you can have them do will make them feel like they are helping big time. At this age, they should really be with you for the most part anyway so including them in what you are doing shouldn't be a big deal. You can give them a dust rag and they can dust alongside you. My daughter even will dust the walls for me. She is always so happy when I include her. Toddlers can also line up shoes, put their dirty clothing in the laundry, put napkins around at the table, throw something away for you, help clean up their toys, stack books or magazines, hand you something off the floor, etc. Any little thing that they can do will teach them that helping is good and make them feel proud of themselves.

Preschoolers generally still enjoy helping and can do a lot more than you think. Preschoolers can do all of the above plus set the table, help put dishes away (unbreakable ones), get their own snack, put their clean laundry away, dress themselves, sweep under the table (buy a small handheld sweeper and dust pan) make their beds (it won't be perfect, but resist the urge to redo it), empty small trashcans into a bigger one, put a bag in the trash, fold napkins and towels, help bring in the groceries and help in the kitchen. My daughter loves to wash veggies, count out hotdogs, stir muffin batter, pour ingredients and take plates over to the table. Preschoolers also love sticker charts and if you combine chores with earning stickers you will make their day.

For young school age kids, maybe 5-7, they can do all of the above, plus sweep, help in the garden or yard (pulling weeds or raking leaves), organize books (and actually do a decent job), vacuuming, mopping, putting things away for you, unloading the dishwasher, clipping coupons, folding laundry and sorting laundry. They can also do a pretty good job at helping wash the car. One thing I have my kids do frequently, especially during cold and flu season, is to give them a disinfecting wipe and have them go through the house and wipe down all the doorknobs and light switches.

Up through age 7 or 8, remember the child is helping you. Many of the things I have listed they would not be able to complete on their own. Keep in mind small children get tired faster than adults. So they may help rake the leaves for 10 minutes and that is great. Don't expect them to rake the whole yard. Children need to be taught to do chores correctly and if you start when they are young things will go much smoother. Don't expect perfection in the beginning, but over the years they will develop some pretty good ways of getting things clean and you will really come to rely on them to help the house run.

From the ages of 9-12 children can handle increasingly difficult jobs around the home and yard. They are usually now capable of completing any of the above chores fairly quickly and do a pretty good job. I know that my 10 year old can go out and rake and bag leaves, mow the lawn (the flat parts, we don't want him going up and down hills yet), wash the car, water the garden and sweep the porch. Inside the house he does a great job vacuuming, unloading the dishwasher, carrying the groceries in, cleaning up messes and sweeping and mopping.

For children older than 12 they should be learning to do everything that an adult does around the house. It shouldn't take them long to learn and I really think that kids need to learn everything that needs to be done to run a household. What better way to teach that than to actually have them do it. Parents need to take the time to teach their children all the little things as well as the big things. They should be able to cook meals, change the oil in their car, mow the lawn, clean the house top to bottom, plan a menu, do minor fixes around the house, etc. It won't be long before they are out on their own and they need to know how to survive.

I do not have my children do all of these things all the time. I do not sit around all day while my children wait on me and clean the house. We all work together to help keep the house running. They need to know how to do everything I do eventually and my job is to teach them.

I have found that rotating chores will keep the kids learning and keep them interested. One of the things that runs through my head frequently is "who is the youngest person who could handle this?" It is so tempting to just ask the oldest one to do everything, because they are fast and capable, but the younger ones need to learn too.

Each child has chores that they are always expected to do. We do not pay for these chores. We do however pay for extra chores that need to be done. It is up to you what incentive you use, some people use none and that is fine. We do a combination. Having kids do chores might seem like more trouble than it is worth when they are young, but it will pay off in the long run and it won't be long before the whole family is reaping the benefits of everyone working together.


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    • messerc123 profile image

      messerc123 7 years ago from El Paso, Texas

      Thanks for this hub. My daughter is four and is always asking me to give her a chore list of course in return for an allowance, but I'm usually not sure how much I should let her do, so thanks for all the great info.

    • profile image

      Chad 8 years ago

      I, too, faced a lot of problems making them do the basic picking up after them jobs. I was yelling myself hoarse just to pick up their toys after they finished playing with them. It was easier to do it myself. But when will they learn?

      It was then that I started out on the net. I came across the chore charts. I then planned a little bit. I asked each of my daughters to chose their favorite design (they chose from kidrewardzone) and took a print. I would use a star for each chore done and a minus for a negative behavior like tantrums, untidy rooms, etc. A coin(money) would correspond each star and a coin would be removed for a minus. They did not like the minuses, when they got them initially. Slowly, it came down considerably. They try to get full 10 points and the corresponding money, too. Now, to my surprise, they now understand the concept of money and time too!!!

    • mayhmong profile image

      mayhmong 8 years ago from North Carolina

      My foster mom is getting better at assigning chores to the other kids now that I am no longer home as much to do it all. Its great to see that some are glad to help out and others ehh...well are too lazy to clean up after themselves.

    • Jennifer profile image

      Jennifer 9 years ago

      Yes Patty you are right. I wouldn't even let my 10 year old iron at this point.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I agree that children need to do chores to contribute to the family, to feel useful, and to even have fun. It helps to create a work ethic and a habit of doing activites rather than just sitting.

      Question - Long ago I babysat for a parent that made her two-year old stand on a bar stool and do ironing with a full sized steam iron. I think it was out of line as too dangerous. Am I right on this or not?

    • Jennifer profile image

      Jennifer 9 years ago

      Hi Neil, so you finally joined the world of blogging! I will head over and check it out. I actually have a blog too, that I don't typically advertise on hubpages it is I will also check out your friends blog. Thanks!

    • proudgrandpa profile image

      proudgrandpa 9 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      Gooodmorning Jennifer,

      I just shared this hub with a man named Dave Taylor who in addition to being one of the formost bloggers on the net ( he writes a parenting blog ( and he shares your dedication and values when if comes to parenting. I just love it when neat people know about each other.

      If you run out of things to do, HA, I just launched my blog ( yesterday. I hope it adds value to someone you know.

      Thanks, NEIL

    • C.S.Alexis profile image

      C.S.Alexis 9 years ago from NW Indiana

      Jennifer I wish there were a way to send this hub out to every parent across the USA. It drives me crazy that people no longer care that their children are not a part of the functioning household labor force. Not all parents let the kids be LUMPS but it seems to have become the norm. C.S. Alexis

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      In our preschool, we do indeed ask the kids to help clean up, keep their toys, arrange their tables and chairs, etc... :) I agree that the earlier we train them the better.

    • JennHollowell profile image

      JennHollowell 9 years ago from Richmond, Maine USA

      Great information - thank you! I'm constantly receiving "flack" for using chores (we don't call them chores, we call the responsible routines) in our household, so this is a very timely hub for me!

    • The Odor Doctor profile image

      The Odor Doctor 9 years ago from Minnesota

      I definitely think children should help out around the house.

      I am a single father with 3 boys 10, 8, and 4. My biggest helper is the 4 year old and he doesn't have to be asked to pick up. He caught on by watching me and then doing things to mirror me I guess. My 8 and 10 year old think that doing chores is punishment and fight back constantly.

      I am at the point where I need the extra help around my house and they "don't get it" I guess. I try to explain that it is difficult to do everything all by myself and i would be very appreciative of their help. I try to stress that we all have to do our part to make us a strong family, of course this goes in one ear and out the other.

      So I believe in children helping out and doing chores, it's just getting to do them that is the hard part. I don't think that paying them is the answer or that the should be rewarded just to do chores because that won't teach them anything. They will just keep trying to negotiate a bigger reward for the same amount of work.

      My 2 cents

    • proudgrandpa profile image

      proudgrandpa 9 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      What I appreciate the most is that this is what I call Love in action. As an old guy I can tell you that this is what good and contributing young people are made of. You are creating so many good things by allowing them to be part of the family. The sense of accomplishment doesn't start with winning an Olympic metal, it starts with helping Mom and Dad build a family that they are part of. Great hub about the most important building blocks for Real Self Esteem.

      Thanks for sharing this with us. NEIL

    • allshookup profile image

      allshookup 9 years ago from The South, United States

      Great hub. I agree with you. I feel that children should learn to take responsiblity so they will know how to do it when they leave home. Too many nowdays don't know how to do anything. Keep up the great work!

    • ehue profile image

      ehue 9 years ago from Sydney

      Great hub! My family's always expected me to help with chores, and sometimes parents do underestimate how much young children want to help around the house.

    • Marye Audet profile image

      Marye Audet 9 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      I totally agree Jennifer! CHores give children a sense of worth and belonging.