“What’s going on? Why does it seem like my whole day’s spent picking up after someone else?” If you’re anything like me, you’ve these thoughts a couple of times a day. At least! There are moments where i do it all just because it’s easier, and it’ll get done quicker if i do it myself, and there are moments where i don’t ask for help because i feel too ‘bad’ to ask. You know what i mean… that ‘mom guilt’ that pops up every now and then (luckily, not very often 😉 )
But the truth is, there’s really nothing wrong with handing out chores to the little ones. And definitely nothing with handing them out to the not-so-little ones. Having chores teaches children a great deal about life and about responsibility. Some of the benefits of doing chores include
1. Learning to work with others – if you have more than one child, getting them to work together on some of the chores helps develop their bargaining and reasoning abilities (‘i’ll do this part if you do that part’), and their understanding that their actions can have an effect on others (eg. working together can result in a job being done well, and on time).
2. Having chores helps a child feel like they have an important role to play in the family and it gives them a purpose. When a chore is completed, your child can feel proud of himself, and of whichever aspect of the house his chore was involved with.
3. Children learn self-discipline – this is especially true if you set the chores up in such a way that your child has to take some responsibility for them himself. Explain to your child that even though they might not want to do certain things, chores are an important part of family life. Explain what is expected from them, and then trust that it will get done.
4. Rewarding chores with a special treat, such as allowance at the end of the week or an outing on the weekend, teaches your child patience, and helps them understand that not everything comes to you exactly when you want it. Teaching your child about working hard for something that they want is extremely important.
So, now that i’ve convinced you that you’re not going to be harming you little one by handing out a few chores, 🙂 , the big question is, “Where do i start?”. What age is okay? And what type of chores can a really little one manage?
Toddlers (2 to 3 years old)
At this age, chores are really only about holding your child responsible in the smallest ways. Introducing your child to the idea of chores from a young age by giving them small tasks to do, means that they will become accustomed to the idea of helping around the house, and getting them to do chores later on won’t be such a struggle. Some age-appropriate ideas include:
- putting a piece of clothing in the laundry hamper
- putting a nappy in the bin
- pack the blocks back into their container
- organize/tidy the teddies on their bed
- put books back onto the bookshelf
Ages 4 – 7
As children get older, their ability to do more complex tasks, and tasks that require a little more independence, increases. If you have been getting your child to help out around the house from a young age, they’ll probably feel quite happy and confident to take on bigger, more ‘important’ tasks as they get older. These can now include tasks that require your child to be a little more responsible. Some ideas include:
- make their bed
- put away their toys
- set the table
- feed the family pet
- help clear the table after dinner, and put (non-breakable and not sharp) items into the dishwasher
- lay out their clothes for school and get their school bag ready for the next day
- sweep the floor and wipe up mall messes
Ages 8 – 10
By now your little helper should be quite a pro! Chores become even more complicated, and can now involve ‘heavy machinery!’ Of course, as i’m sure your child will remind you, you may need to increase their allowance to get them to put in the extra heavy lifting :). Some suitable chores for your 8 – 10 year old include :
- clean their bedroom (tidy away toys, make bed, put away shoes etc.)
- set the table
- help wash the car
- vacuum (the carpet in the playroom or the sitting room etc.)
- help pack school lunches
- bring in the mail
- take out the trash
- water the plants
- rake the leaves
Ages 11 and up
Most older kids want a little independence as far as their social lives and school work go, and if they are old enough to ask for and expect some freedom in those respects, then they’re also old enough to handle larger-scale chores on their own. Here are some chores to consider for your tweens and teens.
- clean their bedroom (tidy up, make the bed, wipe down surfaces, vacuum or sweep the floor)
- wash dishes and wipe the kitchen counters
- mow the lawn
- shovel the driveway when it snows
- wash the car
- bath the dog
- walk the dog
Whether you ask them to pick up a few toys, or get them to wipe down the kitchen, at the end of the day, the important thing is that a child learns to be an active part of the family by contributing to the daily running of the family household. Did you have any chores as child?