Child-Friendly Chores and Responsibilities
Now that the New Year has started, and you are getting back into the routine of school and activities, it is the perfect time to introduce new chores and responsibilities into your child’s life. Chores are an important piece of a child’s development to teach them to value their belongings, and expand their capacity for responsibility. You can read more about the benefits of including your child in household chores in this article by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. One of the biggest hesitations we see parents face with assigning chores is knowing what is appropriate for their children, so today we will be diving into tasks your child can assist in that are targeted for their age.
Toddlers (Ages 2-4)
Even toddlers can help around the house, with close supervision, of course. Children at this age can be trusted to begin helping set the bed as well as clean up toys around their room. One game that you can play with your child to make cleaning fun is to have them match together their shoes. When you notice a shoe is awry, simply exclaim to your child “Oh no! This shoe is missing its match!” Once your child locates the matching pair, instruct your child to put them away and remind them to stay together. This will make the cleaning process more fun, and encourage them to readily participate in the action.
Kinder (Ages 5-6)
Now that your child is getting a little older, they should be able to handle a few more tasks. Your child should now be able to keep their laundry picked up into a laundry basket, and help sort the laundry for laundry day. They may not yet be able to assist with hanging up or folding, but they can help you sort out shirts, shorts, and match together their socks. Children this age should be getting better about putting toys away, but may need guidance on where each toy belongs. They may begin taking an interest in helping with meal time, and can help set and clear the table.
Early Elementary (Ages 6-8)
As your child continues to grow and begins to refine their fine motor skills, the level of involvement they have in tasks can increase, too. At this age children can continue to help with laundry, but can begin folding and putting clothes away. They can easily put their toys away, make their beds, and even pick out an outfit for the day as well as dress themselves! As their abilities grow in helping set up and clear the table, they may earn the privilege to begin helping in the kitchen by assisting in adding simple ingredients, and cleaning small spills made while cooking. Challenge them to a game of trash round-up by setting a timer for 5 minutes and see how many indoor trash cans they can empty before the time runs up to introduce a new skill!
Upper Elementary (Ages 8 and up)
In the upper years of elementary school, your child should be able to handle their personal chores independently, but still may need supervision or support with family chores. They should be making their bed, handling their laundry, completing their morning routine, and keeping their room clean with ease. They can assist the family by washing dishes, raking leaves, and helping to keep bathrooms and common areas clean. You may begin noticing more resistance from your child to assist with chores as they mature and become more independent, so introducing a chore chart to help them visualize when they need to complete tasks, and what the benefits of completing the chores can be, may be helpful in keeping them on track. Here is a chore chart we found that helps your child notice which chores need to be done each day, and which ones they can choose when to do.
The second concern we hear most from parents is how to motivate their child to assist in chores around the house. Many people find that their children are happy to help when they are young, but age out of their willingness to help as they approach their teenage years. Below are some of our top tips to keep up motivation as you introduce your child to chores.
Start young, and build it around routines!
As stated before, even toddlers can help with their chores and the sooner you invite your child to assist you, the easier this tip will be. With younger children, a wonderful way to motivate your child is to encourage them to clean up anytime they are ready to move into a new activity. This begins at the start of the day, and your child should know from practice that their day cannot begin until they have taken the time to clean their space and make their bed. Consider including an evening routine of watching a family show together, or playing a game that cannot begin until all family members have cleaned up their activities from the day.
Model your expectations for your child.
Your child will have a hard time staying motivated to complete their chores if they do not see you completing yours, so make an intentional effort to show your child that you too complete your chores during your chore times. Invite them in your room to play while you clean or hang up clothes. Make sure that they know it is a family project, and your expectations for them are your expectations for yourself as well.
Introduce new chores with a game.
It is a well known reality that children learn best through play, so when beginning a new task or chore, introduce them as games until your child is an expert. This can easily be achieved through races where your child can earn small prizes for breaking a new time record, or by putting a song and dance to it! Making chores fun is a sure way to make sure your child is eager to participate and learn something new.
Use rewards to reinforce a job well done.
Rewards can be a great tool to encourage your child to participate in household chores. This can be an opportunity to spend extra time doing something they already love, or even the chance to do something new and exciting over the weekend. As they get older, their chores can be set to a point system where once they achieve a certain amount of points, they participate in a special activity. This could also be beginning to reward your child with a weekly allowance.
Our best tip we have saved for last. Be ready to accept the process. The first few times your child begins to help, they will not be perfect. Your toddler will have an uneven, even wrinkled blanket across their bed. Your kindergartner will only remember to set half the table, then get distracted with something else. Be patient and consistent with your child, and you will be amazed over time how their skills expand and grow.
We hope you find these tips useful as you challenge your child to contribute to family household chores, and build these skills into your child’s routine.
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