a mother and child doing laundry together

Experts Say Your 8-Year-Old Should Know How to Do Laundry

For many families, chores are a well-worn tradition. It helps kids learn responsibility and life skills while lightening the load for the parents. However, one survey found that 82% of parents did chores regularly when they were kids, yet only 28% assign their own kids chores now. [1] Some parents believe that kids are too busy with school and extracurricular activities for household chores. And many parents underestimate the capabilities of their kids. And they might be surprised to learn that eight-year-olds could know how to do laundry.

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Why Kids Should Know How to Do Laundry (And Other Chores)

Often the largest obstacle isn’t the child resisting the chores. It’s the parents resisting teaching them. After all, teaching a new skill takes time. Plus, a parent could accomplish the chore in a fraction of the time — and do a better job. Keep in mind that with time and practice, the children will increase the speed and quality of their chores. Additionally, they will gain so many benefits, including:

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  • Build self-esteem 
  • Encourages independence
  • Teaching them the importance of achievement
  • Emphasizing the value of cleanliness and organization
  • Creating healthy and productive routines
  • Teaching how to work “as part of a team” [2]

We know our children need to learn to do these things, both to learn the skills and to be engaged members of the family,” said Gilboa. “Now might be a good time to start. Use the slightly more relaxed schedule of summer to let them try, And try again. Until they get it. That way, by the time school starts, you won’t be teaching, you’ll be enjoying one less thing you have to do.”

Chores by Age

Here’s a straightforward guide for which chores are appropriate at which age.

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18 months–3 years: Yes, you can start them young. After all, this is when they love doing things themselves, so take them up on it. “You’ll rarely need to ask a preschooler twice if they’d like to do a big-kid job for you,” said Gilboa. But she adds not to give them a job you will have to redo right after. “That would be a quick way to teach them that they might as well not help at all.”

For instance, they could:

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  • Put toys away
  • Wipe up spills
  • Dusting
  • Putting clothes in the hamper

4–5 years: Kids at this age are capable of doing certain tasks alone, but they often won’t remember them unprompted.  “Hint: tell them to tell you when they’re done,” Gilboa said. “This will help to keep them on task, and let you know to check that it was done the way they’ve been taught.

  • Making their bed
  • Clearing the table
  • Watering flowers
  • Washing plastic dishes

Read: Woman Decides To Stop Doing All The Chores For Her Family And Document The Results

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6–8 years: Elementary students could take on daily chores to build good habits. A good option could be a repetitive chore in the kitchen or caring for a pet. And yes, eight-year-olds can know how to do laundry as well as:

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  • Sweeping
  • Keeping their bedrooms neat
  • Setting and clearing the table
  • Preparing and packing their lunches

9–11 years: At this point, kids are able to take on multi-set chores. “These will take a while to learn, but are great for sharpening their planning and problem-solving skills as well as — eventually — taking something off your plate.” 

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  • Cooking simple foods
  • Putting away groceries
  • Loading and unloading dishwashers
  • Mopping the floors

For Preteens and Teens

12–13 years: As they enter their rebellious years, the best chores for this age are ones that are particularly important to them. “If your child loves to eat, dinner or breakfast prep is a great chore,” Gilboa said. “If they need a lot of rides to activities, then cleaning out the car regularly is a good task.” 

  • Ironing 
  • Changing bed sheets
  • Cleaning bathrooms
  • Babysitting younger siblings [3]

14–15 years: At this point, you could delegate your teens to chores you don’t enjoy doing. After all, kids have jobs and similar responsibilities at this age, and “they can certainly handle making dinner for the whole family once a week or tackling larger projects around the house.”

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16–18 years: Teens at this age are able to drive and graduate high school, so it’s important that they have all the life skills they will need to live on their own, from cooking to cleaning to financial tasks. 

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How to Avoid Chore Pitfalls

  1. Don’t insist on perfection and give the kids time to improve on their own. And don’t jump in and do the chore for them.
  2. Don’t underestimate your young kids. They are more capable than you think of accomplishing tasks.
  3. Be consistent. If your kids aren’t expected to follow through, they’ll put off their tasks, hoping that you’ll do it for them.
  4. Use lots of praise. Make chores a positive experience. After all, the kids could know how to do laundry, but they won’t do it if it’s accompanied by heaps of criticism.

Keep Reading: The Ultimate Room-By-Room Spring Cleaning Checklist

Sources

  1.   “Yes, 8-year-olds can do their own laundry! A guide to chores at every age.Today.  Allison Slater Tate. June 23, 2016
  2. “The Benefits of Giving Kids Chores.Very Well Family. Katherine Lee. February 6, 2020.
  3. Divide and Conquer Household Chores.” WebMD. Annie Stuart. December 2, 2012
Sarah Biren
Freelance Writer
Sarah is a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. She believes that food is the best method of healing and a classic way of bringing people together. In her spare time, Sarah does yoga, reads cookbooks, writes stories, and finds ways to make any type of food in her blender.
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