There are many benefits to having children help around the home. Giving children chores can make them feel important, teach essential life skills, and help ease the workload for parents. Studies have found that providing children with tasks to complete early on will help create a solid work ethic while developing responsibility, self-reliance, and other vital life skills.
Children are capable of handling much more than some people may first believe. Even toddlers can help with the smallest and simplest chores, and by the time they’re teenagers, they can manage most of what their parents can. The key is to start your kids off with small household tasks at a young age and slowly teach them more complicated chores over time. Setting expectations as soon as it’s developmentally appropriate can help ease any arguing later on as they become older and begin to test boundaries.
The following is an ultimate age-appropriate list of chores for children ages two to eighteen:
Toddlers (Ages 2-3)
Toddlers can complete simple tasks around the home. Toddlers are also at an age where they find the idea of helping their parents, caretakers, or older siblings as one of the most exciting things they can do. Young children learn about their world primarily through watching others do something and then copying their actions. Take advantage of this developmental stage to begin teaching your children some responsibility.
It’s important to note that toddlers need supervision and guidance with their chores. By the time they reach preschool age, kids can usually complete some tasks unsupervised.
A few examples of chores that toddlers can complete are:
- Put their toys away
- Fill up a cat or dog’s food bowl
- Place clothing in the hamper
- Wipe up spills
- Dust or wipe baseboards with a sock on their hand
- Pile up books and magazines on shelves or tables
- Help load the washer and dryer
- Mop small areas with a dry mop
Preschoolers (Ages 4-5)
Preschoolers continue to feel the same desire to help their parents because they’re still learning through observing their elders. There are even some chores your children can do without supervision at this age. Typically, these will be the same ones they completed when they were toddlers, including one or two new tasks they’re naturally adept at doing.
The increased ability at this stage is largely attributable to preschoolers starting to master the skills necessary to perform tasks without supervision. Their hand-eye coordination will have improved at this stage, including their ability to follow more complex instructions. Whereas toddlers need to be told each step associated with a task, preschoolers may have the ability to remember and follow instructions up to two or three steps at a time.
In addition to the chores listed above, preschoolers can typically help with the following duties:
- Make their bed without supervision
- Clear the table
- Pull weeds
- Use a hand-held vacuum for crumbs or room edges
- Water flowers
- Put away clean utensils
- Wash plastic dishes with supervision
- Assist an older sibling with setting the table
- Help bring in light groceries
- Sort laundry into whites and colors before wash
- Match socks together
- Dust with a cloth
- Care for an animal’s food and water dish
Primary Schoolers (Ages 6-9)
Once a child reaches primary school age, they can take on much more responsibility without supervision. They can start learning more physically challenging or complex tasks as they continue to develop necessary skills.
Parents should understand that this age group will sometimes start “rebelling” against the idea of doing chores as they learn more independence. However, try to remain patient and consistent with the expectation that your kids continue to help around the home. Some children may never challenge their parents in this way. Whether they do or not will largely depend on their unique personalities.
In addition to the chores listed for both toddlers and preschoolers above, primary schoolers between the ages of 6 and 9 can usually complete the following tasks:
- Sweep floors
- Help make bagged or boxed lunches
- Rake the yard
- Clean their bedrooms, with minimal supervision
- Put away groceries
- Load the dishwasher
- Empty the dishwasher or drain
- Wipe down counters and sinks
- Help a parent prepare dinner
- Make themselves snacks/breakfast
- Scrub the table after meals
- Fold and put away their laundry
- Take the family dog for a walk (in the yard or with supervision)
- Wet mop the floor
- Empty indoor trash bins into the kitchen trash
Middle Schoolers (Ages 10-13)
Preteens or middle schoolers can do many tasks independently and be held responsible for them without constant reminders. Many families decide to create a chore chart or task list for their children at this age. Parents can hold their children accountable and check just once a day to mark things off the list or chart; this helps kids learn self-reliance and to be responsible for themselves when no one is looking.
In addition to the tasks listed in the sections above for younger kids, children between the ages of 10 and 13 should be able to do the following chores:
- Wash the dishes or load the dishwasher without assistance
- Wash the family car
- Prepare easy meals without assistance
- Use the clothes washer and dryer
- Take trash to the bins
- Take trash bins to the curb
- Babysit younger siblings with parents at home
High Schoolers (Ages 14+)
By the time your child reaches high school, they can do nearly any household task you can. This is the perfect age to start ensuring your teen is fully prepared for the eventuality of living on their own. While not all kids fly the nest upon reaching eighteen, the day will eventually come when they will have to rely on the life skills you’ve taught them. Thanks to the rising costs of living and excessive student loan debts, more children are deciding to live at home while attending college or saving for a home of their own than in recent years. If your child stays with you beyond the age of eighteen, they can continue helping around the house.
In addition to the tasks listed in previous sections, children over the age of fourteen can complete the following chores:
- Clean out the fridge
- Help deep clean kitchen (appliances and cabinets)
- Clean the toilet, sink, and shower in the bathroom
- Clean windows
- Babysit younger siblings independently (for short periods)
- Mow the lawn
- Care for pets independently (including walks)
- Make more complex meals
- Accomplish small shopping trips alone (after receiving their license)
- Iron clothes
- Resew buttons on clothing
- Help parents with simple home or auto repairs
Children are capable of accomplishing much more than parents might think. Even the youngest family members can help with household tasks as early as age two, and by the time your child reaches their teenage years, they can complete nearly any chore you can. There are many benefits to giving children chores, and it also makes life a lot easier for parents.