Having chores around the house is a very important part of a child’s development. It teaches them to become responsible adults. Some folk may figure that the battle to get the job done may be more aggravation then just doing it themselves. While doing it yourself may be easier in the short term, it can actually hurt your child in the future. Choosing the correct, age appropriate chores for your child may help you avoid those battles.
If this is something new for older children, start off with a family meeting. Discuss the new rules and expectations. Be ready for complaints and some resistance. It may take a few weeks to get into the groove of a new routine. Starting children off as early as toddler-hood, doing simple chores, will help avoid this shock to a teenager’s delicate system.
Children 8 years old and younger can handle quite a few things around the house believe it or not! My 4-year-old son has been responsible for putting the dirty laundry in the hamper, each morning for well over a year. He proudly marches from bedroom to bedroom, hunting for dirty items! Gathering the items and placing them in the hamper gives him a sense of accomplishment that he (and I) are quite proud of. Younger children can also be responsible for feeding pets; setting/clearing the table; sweeping; putting toys away; dusting; watering plants. Put on a huge show, let your child know what a HUGE help they are to the whole family by taking on this great deed.
Children ages 9 to 12 years old can wash dishes by hand, or place dirty dishes into the dishwasher; put the clean dishes away; help with cooking; wash the car; make beds; sort/fold laundry; take out the trash; run the vacuum. Children this age may become wise to the ways of an allowance, so be prepared for that conversation as well!
Kids 13 and older can take on much bigger responsibilities. They can prepare lunches for themselves and younger siblings; run simple errands; change bedding; mop floors; do laundry; yard-work/gardening; cleaning the house.
Be specific in your requests and make sure your child knows how to do the job properly and safely. Use a chore chart, which you can post on the fridge so your child doesn’t “forget” his/her chores. Stay flexible in your demands. There may be days when your child would like to make special plans or has a ton of homework to do. They should still have plenty of opportunity to be a child first.