Chore Lists For Kids Of All Ages
Appropriate Chores For Children Of All Ages
Nobody likes doing chores, but they are a part of the cooperative living situation that we find ourselves in when we live with our families. There are situations that require daily maintenance, or large-scale projects that aren't done often, but are time consuming. If you have children, they can be expected to help out around the house. But what is appropriate? You don't want to overload your children with insane responsibilities that take away from their time to learn, play, and develop. You also don't want to allow your children to breeze through their home life without contributing, helping, or being a part of the daily household activities. We put together this list (with a little help from Child Development Info and Doctor Brunner) to help you come up with a chore routine and list for your family.
It's one thing to tell your kids to take out the trash, empty the dishwasher, or walk the dog, but how often will they do it? One of the key things to establish is discipline so that your family knows that these chores need to be done in order for the household to function.
- Deadlines: Chores should have a start-by time and a finish-by time. Try to correlate these deadlines with naturally occurring family routines, such as lunch time or dinner time.
- Earnings: Whether you and your family subscribe to giving monetary allowance as compensation for completing chores, it is important to stress that these are the child's responsibility and will help to maintain the family and household. These are not tasks that children to obtain or gain anything, they are what is expected of them as part of a family unit.
- Discuss: Communicate with your children and give them the opportunity to trade or replace chores. For instance, if your child HATES walking the dog in the morning, you can trade with them to finish cleaning up after dinner. It's important that children have some freedom with their chores, and that you allow them to express preference as to which jobs they would rather do. This does not mean that children can get away with disliking every chore, but rather, they can choose which of these tasks (even if they don't like them) to perform.
- Visual: Post the chore list or schedule on the fridge, in the hallway, in their bedroom, or make a virtual calendar that pops up notifications to remind them. It is helpful to see a visual, particularly one that the child can cross off or check-mark when they complete a task. It is satisfying, and also allows for accountability when the whole family can see.
Age Appropriate Daily Tasks
At all stages of development, children have the capacity to perform different tasks.
Toddlers (Ages 2-3)
- Clean up after themselves. Put away toys, crayons, throw out trash, etc.
- Fill up an animal's food bowl.
- Put dirty clothes in a hamper.
- Help to fold laundry and match socks.
Preschoolers (Ages 4-5)
- Make their beds.
- Clear or set the table for meals.
- Pull weeds or water plants.
- Put away clean utensils.
- Help put away groceries.
- Sort laundry before wash.
- Feed and give water to animals.
- Dust or use a hand-held vacuum.
Primary Schoolers (Ages 6-9)
- Sweep, vacuum, and mop floors.
- Make lunch for themselves the night before school.
- Rake the yard, basic lawn maintenance.
- Load and empty the dishwasher.
- Prepare their own light snacks.
- Clean up common areas such as living room or kitchen.
- Wash windows.
- Help a parent prepare dinner.
- Fold and put away their own laundry.
- Take out the trash.
- Walk the dog (if safe to do so by themselves).
Middle Schoolers (Ages 10-13)
- Wash dishes and put away clean dishes.
- Prepare light meals by themselves.
- Wash the family car.
- Use the clothing washing machine and dryer.
- Take trash bins to the curb.
- Deep cleaning common areas such as bathrooms, living room, kitchen.
- Babysit younger siblings with parents at home.
High Schoolers (Ages 14+)
- Clean out fridge and pantry.
- Deep clean entire house (don't give them the entire house, but alternate rooms such as the kitchen one week, the bathroom the next week, etc.)
- Mow the lawn.
- Care for animals such as feeding, walking, administering medicine, etc.
- Babysit younger siblings independently.
- Make more complex meals, prepare a side dish, make breakfast on the weekends.
- Accomplish small shopping trips given a list and money to make purchases.
- Iron clothing
- Help parents with simple home or auto repairs.
What To Do If Your Child Won't Cooperate
Experts differ on this topic, but there are several matters to take into account. Is your child busy, stressed, or not feeling well? Is your child being defiant or lazy? Does your child feel as though they are now responsible for the whole home instead of a few chores?
Ultimately, it is your decision as a parent, but several theories have gained popularity as to the best way to address uncompleted tasks:
- Don't remind your children, nag them, etc. Instead, just wait for the deadline to pass to complete the chore, and stop what your child is doing and make them accomplish the task immediately.
- Do your chores together and remind them that while it isn't super fun, at least you guys get to do your chores together. Put on some music and get it done.
- Have a family meeting where you go over which chores were not accomplished and what the importance behind those tasks were. Hold each family member accountable including Mom and Dad to the same level as the children.
- Remove privileges such as electronics, video games, T.V., etc.
- Do not scream or yell at the child to accomplish the task as this adds pressure to the chore. Instead, calmly discuss how the child is impacting the family, the household, and their own daily routine by not accomplishing this task.
Day to day tasks should be implemented early on to teach children that families function as a unit with each member doing their part to contribute to the whole. Parents often struggle with preferring to do the chores themselves to avoid an argument or meltdown with their children, but this does not teach the child to be a functional individual within a group, but instead that they can get out of responsibilities by behaving difficultly. It is important to foster a collaborative household. What chores do you have your children doing? How often? Comment below and give us your household routines!