Time to Play: Does Your Child Help With Chores?

My husband and I were JUST talking about this last week. As kids, we both had to complete chores. I think chores are important for children and here is why. Children need to feel as though they’re part of something. They can’t feel that way if they don’t have chores and make contributions to the family. Chores are one of the best ways to build a feeling of competence and establish helpful habits and good attitudes about work.

We have Mason do some small chores around the house already. He puts his toys away and helps to clear the dishes from the dinner table. But, what chores should we have Mason complete on a daily basis? What is appropriate for his age? Should we pay him an allowance? I’ve been doing research on what the “experts” suggest, and here is what I found.

Many parents underestimate what their kids are able to do. Think about this…your child can turn on your IPad, choose an app, buy a game, then play that game, but they can’t set the table or start the dishwasher? Huh? Something is wrong with this picture.

Generally, young children around preschool age can handle one or two simple one-step or two-step jobs. Older children can manage more. Realize the kids can begin to help with household chores at an early age.

One of the biggest mistakes is thinking children should know how to complete a task. Remember, this is how children learn – “the learning is in the doing” and by giving chores, you help to promote this. Demonstrate for your child step by step how the chore should be completed. Next, let your child help. And then have your child do the chore as you supervise. Once your child has it mastered, he’s ready to go solo.

When you do give instructions for your child to complete a chore, be specific. Saying something as simple as ‘Clean your room’ is vague and can be interpreted many different ways. Instead, be specific in the exact tasks you want completed.

So, what are some chores that are age appropriate for my child? A 2 or 3 year old is capable of tasks such as putting toys away or putting clothes in the hamper. Kids ages 4 and 5 can make the bed and empty the waste baskets. Children aged 6 to 7 can sort laundry and sweep floors. Kids ages 8 to 9 can use the vacuum or put groceries away. And, some chores for children ages 10 and up include mowing the lawn or cleaning the bathroom.

So, should your child get an allowance? Most parenting experts say “usually not.” That’s because the main purpose of an allowance is to teach kids how to handle money. However, once an older child has established a sense of responsibility, money can become a nice motivator for certain chores.

Bottom line, kids need to complete chores like they need structure and sleep. Do what works for your family. You might be surprised how readily your child accepts completing chores.

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