Household chores can seem never-ending, but when you get the whole family involved it can lighten the load for everyone. As most parents know, however, getting your kids to do chores can often be a challenge, and can sometimes take some creativity. Choosing age appropriate chores can help get them into helping around the house.
While your kids may initially put up some resistance, getting them involved in keeping the house clean and tidy teaches them valuable life skills, and is worth the struggle. Finding age-appropriate chores for your kids will get them involved in the daily cleanup, no matter how young they are.
Chores are Good for your Kids
Of course, having your kids help out around the house benefits you since it lessens some of your workload, but the greatest beneficiaries of household chores are actually your kids themselves.
Tackling the chores list as a family fosters teamwork, a skill that children will take with them to school and into the workforce later in life. Helping out around the house will also help your child to grow as a person.
Doing chores can provide your children with a feeling of confidence and self-efficacy as they learn to use their abilities to achieve a goal (in this case, completing the chore). When they are reminded that their work helps everyone else out in the household, it also teaches them to take pride in the job that they’ve done .
Doing chores encourages independence, because your child is doing the job by themselves, and teaches the importance of completing an assigned job, which will serve them well when they get a job in the future.
Structure and routine also helps reduce power struggles between parents and children, and can help build your child’s self-control. Having a weekly chore routine wherein your children know exactly what is expected of them helps set this structure within your household.
Of course, when your kids take part in the family chore load, everyone in the household benefits because chores get done quicker. This allows more time for the members of your household to spend quality time together once all the necessary tasks are completed, bringing your family closer together.
Laura Clary, a leadership speaker, trainer and consultant with a background in family life education and child development, says that when children learn chores, it instills leadership and tells them that their abilities benefit the family.
“It also teaches them responsibility and supports their learning as they process size, location, colors, timing and the process of how things work and are completed.” 
Age Appropriate Chores
When getting your kids involved in household tasks, it is important that they are given age-appropriate jobs. If the chore is too difficult, they will get frustrated and discouraged, and it will likely not get done the way you want it, but if it’s too easy they may get bored and become less interested in completing the job.
The following are some examples of chores that are best based on your child’s age:
- Put away toys
- Fill a pet’s food dish
- Put clothes in the hamper
- Wipe up spills
- Dust safe and easy-to-reach areas
- Stock books on shelves
- Help make beds
- Mop small areas with a dry mop
- Sort laundry
- Fold towels and washcloths
- Help unload the dishwasher
- Sweep floors
- Set and clear the table
- Help make and pack lunches
- Rake leaves and pick up sticks
- Help put away groceries
- Clean bathrooms and kitchen
- Do simple sewing and mending projects
- Sweep out the garage
- Cook a simple meal, with adult supervision
- Do laundry on their own
- Keep an eye on younger siblings
- Prepare a simple meal
- Make beds on their own
- Empty wastebaskets
- Bring in the mail and newspapers
- Clear the table
- Pull weeds
- Use a handheld vacuum
- Water flowers
- Help plant a vegetable garden or tree
- Iron clothes (with supervision)
- Load the dishwasher
- Assist with kids-friendly DIY projects
- Put away laundry
- Take out the trash
- Mop floors
- Take pets for walks
- Test smoke alarms at least once a month
- Wash windows
- Maintain compost bins
- Paint walls
- Undertake simple home projects
- Mow the lawn with supervision
- Change lightbulbs
- Change vacuum bag
- Deep clean rooms
Tips to get your Kids to do Chores
Getting your kids to do chores will not always be easy, but there are a few things you can do to get them on board, and to ensure that the task gets done up to your standards.
It is important to remember that every time you teach your child a new chore, there will be a learning curve for them that may require some patience on your part, especially with younger ones. Clary suggests that you do the chore with your child the first few times, then have them complete it while you’re close by in case they have any questions.
“After that, allow the child to do the chore on their own,” she says.
Psychologists suggest starting young. We often regard toddlers, that is children between the ages one and three, as largely incapable of being of much help, but this could not be further from the truth. Toddlers are very eager to help, and getting them involved in family chores at an early age sets the precedent that they will continue to do so as they get older .
Many parents would rather do chores themselves because they can get them done quicker, and with less mess. But parents who expose their children to chores, and allow them to help out, even if that means it takes a little longer, give their child the opportunity to learn.
A messy, fairly incompetent four-year-old who wants to help do the dishes now, for example, will eventually turn into a more competent seven-year-old who wants to help.
“Early opportunities to collaborate with parents likely sets off a developmental trajectory that leads to children voluntarily helping and pitching in at home,” says the University of New Hampshire’s Andrew Coppens.
One way to encourage your child to get involved in family chores is to remind them that they are contributing to a common goal. Young children particularly are motivated by wanting to be a contributing member of the family, so getting the entire family involved in cleanup is a great way to encourage them to help out.
It may be challenging sometimes to give the reins to your kids and have them complete a chore that you could get done in half the time, but getting them involved will provide them with innumerable benefits that will follow them into adulthood, and only benefit you more as they get older and more competent.
- ‘The benefits of kids doing chores’ Michigan State University. Published September 29, 2016
- ‘How To Get Your Kids To Do Chores (Without Resenting It)’ NPR. Published June 9, 2018