Chores for Children. What is Age Appropriate?

If your kids aren’t helping out around the house, now’s the time to begin enlisting their assistance. Being tasked with chores gives children a chance to take pride in their work – and receive lots of praise from mom and dad! It also gives them a sense of responsibility and independence. 

No matter what ages your children are, chances are they wish they could be older and more grown up. When they have important tasks to complete at home and the whole family is relying on them, they’ll feel valued and needed in a new way.

Chores also teach children how to do crucial household tasks. You don’t want to wake up one day and realize your eighteen-year-old has never done a load of laundry. Incrementally showing children why housework needs to be done and how these activities facilitate a comfortable life is key to raising self-reliant individuals.

Chores By Age Group

You may be nodding along with all the above while also wondering what types of chores are appropriate for your children. As much as you want to make sure they have the experience of doing chores, you also don’t want to overwhelm them or task them with something they aren’t prepared to handle.

To help you out, we’ve outlined a quick guide for assigning chores to different age groups.

Ages 2-3

Can your toddler do chores? Yes, as long as you keep it simple! For this age group, make sure chores require only one or two steps to complete, and always give explicit instructions. If you get any pushback, reminding them chores are what “big kids” do is often effective motivation.

Here are a few things you can task your little one with:

  • Putting toys in a designated area
  • Stacking books
  • Throwing away items in the trash can or recycling bin
  • Placing dirty clothes in the laundry hamper

Ages 4-5

Preschoolers’ fine motor skills are more developed than toddlers’, increasing the number of chores they can take on. Of course, their abilities are still limited, so manage your expectations accordingly and focus on completion rather than perfection.

Chores for preschoolers include the above list as well as:

  • Making the bed
  • Watering plants
  • Setting the dinner table
  • Sorting laundry into categories
  • Matching clean socks
  • Dusting large surfaces
  • Replacing toilet paper and paper towel rolls
  • Helping out with raking leaves
  • Bringing in mail from the mailbox

Ages 6-7

As your child enters elementary school, you may need to modify how you approach their chores list. Making chores a game or competition is a great way to ramp up six- and seven-year-olds’ enthusiasm.

In addition to the above, this age group can usually handle:

  • Hanging, folding, and putting away laundry
  • Helping out with packing lunches
  • Emptying and putting away lunchbox after school
  • Emptying the dishwasher of lightweight items

Ages 8+

Older elementary school children can be a major source of help around the house. Try to get a sense of which activities your child prefers over others to minimize the need for cajoling. Some like getting all soaped up doing dishes, others enjoy the meditative aspect of folding laundry. We’re all different!

Children 8 and over can take on all the above listed chores, plus:

  • Loading dishes into the dishwasher
  • Vacuuming
  • Assisting with meal preparation
  • Mopping
  • Packing their own lunch
  • Loading and emptying the washer and dryer
  • Sweeping
  • Taking trash to the curb
  • Weeding the garden

Getting your child into the groove with chores takes patience and consistency. At almost any age, though, your child can help keep your family’s home clean and comfortable as they build confidence, self-reliance, and lifelong skills.