At some point, parents almost always find themselves questioning whether their children should do chores or not. While this is a parenting choice that will differ from home to home, there are a few reasons every parent should consider adding chores to their child’s list of daily activities. Here are some to consider:
- Chores teach children responsibility: Even younger children can benefit from learning responsibility, which includes completing expected tasks at reasonable times. Taking responsibility for small tasks now prepares children for becoming responsible adults later.
- Chores teach children about community: Parents are responsible for providing a home for their children, but children can benefit from learning that their home is a type of community that they can (and should) contribute to keeping clean and organized. The actions of each person are important in a community and can affect whether the community thrives.
- Chores teach life skills: As parents, we prepare our children as best we can for life beyond our homes once they reach adulthood. An education and money-management skills are important, but so are things like knowing how to fold clothes, use a washing machine, and keep a floor clear of pest-attracting debris.
- When everyone pitches in, maintaining a safe, comfortable home becomes easier. That translates into happier parents, which can only lead to a happier family overall.
Once you’ve decided chores are in your children’s future, it’s time to tackle the hard part, which is deciding just which tasks to assign to little Jan and Junior. There are many, many choices, but the one thing to keep in mind is age-appropriateness. If you assign tasks that are not age appropriate, you risk either overwhelming your children or allowing them to think taking care of a home requires little effort. Here are some chores you might assign to your kids, based on their ages:
- Preschoolers: Yes, really. They are cute and pint-sized, but they can do chores too. They can pick up their toys and help put them away, put their worn clothing in a hamper, dust, wipe up minor spills, and help organize things like piles of books, games, and DVDs. You might even allow them to help set the table and fill a pet’s food bowl.
- 5 through 10: This age group can handle any task appropriate for the previous age group as well as chores like assisting with meal preparation, clearing the table after meals, emptying waste baskets, weeding and raking, unloading a dishwasher, washing several unbreakable dishes, sorting laundry, making their own beds, watering plants, and cleaning (or assisting with cleaning) their own bedrooms.
- 11 through 13: Children in this age group can babysit younger siblings when parents are at home, load the dishwasher, wash the car, wash clothes and fold laundry, clean windows, wash floors, vacuum, sweep, clean the bathroom and kitchen, and cook some simple meals. This is in addition to any task appropriate for a younger age group.
- 14 through 18: As teens approach adulthood, they can handle more responsibility and more complex tasks. In addition to everything the younger kids can tackle, 14 to 18 year olds can mow the lawn, shovel snow without assistance, cook dinner, run errands, grocery shop from a parent-provided list, babysit without supervision, iron, walk the dog, clean the litter box, clean the refrigerator, and replace light bulbs.
The above list is not exhaustive. It’s only meant to provide some ideas for each age group. Choose the tasks you feel are appropriate not only for your child’s age group but also for his ability level and personality.