Few people look forward to chores around the house. Though adults may not be excited by the prospect of mopping the kitchen floor or folding the laundry, their lack of enthusiasm no doubt pales in comparison to their children’s opinion of chores.
Chores can play a vital role in kids’ development. According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, children can learn time management skills by doing their chores, which also can teach them how to balance work and play time. Kids can apply those lessons throughout their childhood and into adulthood. Giving kids chores also benefits them by teaching them to accept responsibility within the family and providing them with an opportunity to be successful.
Parents may have a long to-do list in regard to chores around the house, and it can be tempting to share that workload with youngsters. However, the AACAP notes the importance of picking age-appropriate chores for children. Children given chores more suited for older youngsters may fail at completing those tasks. Such failure may set a negative precedent that adversely affects kids’ self-esteem and makes them reluctant to do their chores in the future. On the flip side, the AACAP notes that picking an age-appropriate chore for a child will increase his or her likelihood of success, which can boost their confidence and make them more likely to approach their chores with enthusiasm as they navigate their way through childhood and into adolescence.
The AACAP offers the following age-based chore suggestions to parents as they look to give their children more responsibility around the house.
Two- to three-year-olds: Children in this age group can put their toys away and help put groceries away as well. Stick to groceries that can be dropped without breaking or spilling, which rules out jars of pasta sauce or milk and juice. Children in this age group also can start to dress themselves, though the AACAP recommends parents offer help when necessary so kids do not become discouraged.
Four- to five-year-olds: Four- and five-year-olds can help feed pets and make their beds. In addition, children in this age group can help clear the table after meals, but parents should be sure to take sharp objects like knives to the sink before kids begin helping.
Six- to seven-year-olds: This is a good age for children to begin taking on more complicated chores, including wiping tables and counters, putting laundry away and sweeping floors.
Seven- to nine-year-olds: Children in this age group can help their parents prepare meals and even pack their own lunch for school. The responsibility of loading and unloading the dishwasher also can be given to kids between the ages of seven and nine.
10- to 11-year-olds: More difficult tasks like changing the sheets on their beds, cleaning kitchens and bathrooms and doing yard work are appropriate for kids in this age group.
12-years-old and older: Children 12 and older can help take care of younger siblings and pitch in with grocery shopping and running errands.