Parenting experts say that involving children in the execution of household chores teaches them responsibility and gives them a sense of accomplishment. It also helps cement their role in the family by helping them feel they are contributing to the household. But how young is too young to start children out with their own designated chores? Parents ultimately know best, but experts agree that children as young as two can start learning simple tasks that help out mom or dad. As long as each task attempted is accompanied by specific instructions, realistic expectations, and copious praise, you can teach your children these age-appropriate household chores.
Household Chores for Children Aged Toddler to 5 years. Kids this age can utilize household chores to learn other skills like matching sizes, shapes and patterns, and developing fine motor skills. Piling books and magazines, matching socks, folding washcloths, putting toys away, and putting their laundry in the hamper are all good starter chores for little hands.
Household Chores for Children Aged 6 and up. By this age, children have already mastered hand-eye coordination and advanced motor skills, and understand the concept of time. Rely on your child to set the table for dinner every night at a designated hour, clean their own room (make sure you both understand what you mean by “clean”), feed/exercise pets, take out the trash, clear the table, load and clear the dishwasher, put away groceries, help prepare dinner, pack their own lunches, change their own bed sheets, and water plants. Out of doors they can pull weeds, rake leaves, get the mail, and help shovel snow. Children this age can also help with younger siblings by helping them put on jackets and tie their shoes.
When teaching a child how to do a chore for the first time, show them step-by-step how to do it, and then have them do it with you to reinforce the lesson. Depending on the task’s complexity, you can either then supervise while they do it alone, or practice a few more times before letting them handle it solo. As a deadline for completion, experts suggest employing the “When/Then” rule. For example: “When you have given the dog his walk, then you can go play video games.”
Lastly, experts discourage rewarding children with money for completing regular household chores because they are routine tasks that are mandatory for the whole family. If you want to set up a rewards system, offer your child monetary incentives for doing extra chores above and beyond assigned responsibilities. You can even create a fun chart to keep track of bonuses (and then use the opportunity to teach kids about the value of money).
When doing chores with your child, don’t forget the most important thing – praise. Children of all ages glow with pride at words of approval from their parents (so soak up the adulation before they become teenagers and want nothing to do with you). As the saying goes, “many hands make light work,” but many hands working together also equals time spent together as a family, a treasure far more precious than a spotless house.
This post was written for Realty Executives by Estelle Weber, a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. You can read more of her work here.