EXPERT Q&A

What chores should my child be doing?

Assigning chores to children across all ages can strengthen their confidence and independence, as well as a sense of purpose. Learn more about age-appropriate chores—including when to start asking your child to help out—from CareNectar expert Emily Louange.

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Question

At what age should I start asking my child to do chores? I have a 2-year-old and am not sure if that is too young. And what benefits can doing chores bring to my child?

Answer

This is such an important question! Allowing children to participate in age-appropriate housework is beneficial in so many ways. Helping the family out helps young children build confidence and independence and allows a child to feel like a valued member of the household, which in turn develops a strong sense of purpose.

A strong sense of purpose leads to:

  • Resiliency
  • Objectivity
  • Open-mindedness

We’ll move to publish a breakdown to include the following suggestion.

As a family, create a list of household jobs.

Brainstorm a list of jobs around the house. Encourage your kids to name as many jobs as they can think of. This is an important step because it also gives you an idea of what your children think goes into keeping the house running smoothly. Sometimes it can be helpful to walk through the house as a family and name tasks in each room.

Assign age-appropriate jobs.

Consult with the chart below for ideas about what jobs are good for what age. You can divide up the tasks for age-appropriate tasks to be given to each member of the family. There is also an option to rotate some of the tasks that can be done by any age. So you can create a job wheel, chart, or jar with common jobs that are rotated. Find a system that works for your family. Some kids love doing the same task over and over in order to master it and some children want to try new tasks. Talk to your kids and find out if they would rather have the same chores every week or if they would prefer a rotating system.

Age Appropriate Chores for Kids

Toddlers (2 to 3 years old)

  • Put away toys
  • Collect dirty clothes and place in hamper
  • Make beds
  • Wipe surfaces
  • Swiffer the floor
  • Move clothes from washer to dryer

Preschoolers (4 to 5 years old)

  • All previously listed chores
  • Load the dishwasher
  • Set/clear table
  • Match socks
  • Weed garden
  • Feed pets
  • Take out recycling
  • Fold towels

Early Elementary (6 to 8 years old)

  • All previously listed chores
  • Meal prep (washing, some chopping, collect ingredients)
  • Sweep
  • Bring in mail/packages
  • Fold laundry
  • Rake leaves/shovel snow
  • Collect garbage from around the house
  • Wipe bathroom sinks, countertops, tub, etc. 
  • Vacuum 

Elementary (9 to 11 years old)

  • All previously listed chores
  • Cook simple meals
  • All steps of laundry
  • Mop floors
  • Pet care
  • Clean toilets
  • Get and sort mail

Middle Schoolers (12 to 14 years old)

  • All previously listed chores
  • Make full meals
  • Clean out the fridge/freezer
  • Mow the yard
  • Load and unload the dishwasher
  • Wash car
  • Babysit siblings

High School (14 to 18 years old)

  • All previously listed chores
  • Meal plan/grocery shopping
  • Ironing
  • Provide transportation for younger siblings (16+)
  • Lawn care
  • Clean bathroom completely
  • Wash windows
  • Make sure garbage and recycling are at the curb
  • Sorting items into keep or give away piles

Learning how to do new chores.

Children aren’t born knowing how to complete chores. It will take some time for them to understand how to do a new chore. The “I do, We do, You do” method can work well here. Have your child observe you do the task once. After they observe, have them tell you what they observed. Go over any questions they may have. Next time the chore needs to be completed, do it together. Share the task and again, ask what questions they have. The final time, you observe them completing the task. When they are done, tell them what you saw. Be sure to focus on what they did well and be specific! Finally, they try it completely on their own. They can still come to get you if they run into trouble but this gives them ownership over the task. 

Revisit job lists frequently. 

It’s important to check in at least once a month with the whole family about how household jobs are going for everyone. If a child is feeling frustrated with a specific task, work as a team to problem-solve. If a child is having trouble with the amount of work, listen to their concerns. Work together to work it out! Don’t fall into the trap of assuming they just want out of the work. That might be at the root, but a lot of times a child wants to be helpful to their family. If they aren’t getting to everything on the list, ask how you all could work together to make it happen or if the list needs to be adjusted. 

We hope this is helpful, and remember, we’re here for you!

Meet The Expert


Emily Louange

Emily has held positions as a care provider for over two decades. She’s managed care as a nanny, home health aide, and as a RN after earning her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. When she became a working mother, she was astonished by the insufficient systems in place to support and guide families. She strongly believes that our children and those who care for them deserve better support and solutions. Called to do something to help; she founded a childcare networking platform, Via The Village, served on the Board of Directors for the US Nanny Association, and helped start CareNectar!