As a parent, do you feel strongly about the importance of chores for your kids or do you think kids should be kids and not worry about responsibilities?
Well, I would say that most of us feel like kids need opportunities to be kids, but they also need to learn about age-appropriate responsibility. So I’m going to share 5 essential skills your kids learn while completing chores, age-appropriate chores for kids, and how to implement a chore chart that will underscore the importance of chores.
The 5 Essential Skills Learned Through Chores
In today’s society, many kids head off to college without the foggiest idea about cooking, laundry, or cleaning. They have no concept of what being independent actually looks like because they’ve always had mom or dad do everything for them.
As parents, it’s our job to teach our children these skills in an effort to create independent, autonomous adults.
But the key is that we have to model correct completion of the chore. We can’t just assume that our kids already know how to clean the toilet. Following the “I do, we do, you do” model will help your kids learn any new skill you want to teach them.
My boys have learned important life-skills like laundry, dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning their bedrooms and bathroom. But these weren’t skills they just chose to do one day. It required me taking the time to show them how to do the skill correctly and then monitoring how they did it.
In fact, my older son has shown an interest in cooking, and can make several meals entirely independently at only 11 years old. And if you’re in the mood for pancakes or macaroni and cheese, he’s your man!
Since my boys have been completing chores, they’ve not only gained independence, but confidence as well. When he was 12, my older son and I had a conversation about the fact that he had more knowledge of specific life-skills than many college-aged kids.
If you’re blessed with boys, you know that everything in life is a competition with them. My son’s realization of being more capable than many individuals almost twice his age provided him a huge confidence boost.
Our conversation also provided him with a previously misunderstood reality. He assumed I was making him do chores to be mean. What he discovered was that I was trying to help him become an independent man.
Initiative almost always follows confidence. Someone who feels inept at something is not going to take the initiative to do it!
This same logic applies to kids…if they don’t know how to do something, they aren’t going to just volunteer to do it.
By teaching our kids how to do new things, we are giving them confidence in themselves. That confidence will translate into a willingness to try new things and a whole lot of initiative.
If you want your children to acquire knowledge in life skills, like sweeping, washing dishes, mowing the yard, and laundry, they need to be shown, step by step, the correct technique for completing each task.
Then they need to be given ample opportunities to do it over and over again! The repeated act of proper task completion teaches our kids persistence.
As parents, we are busy! And sometimes we’re guilty of showing our kids how to do something once and then expecting them to remember how to do the task correctly themselves. This is unrealistic, and quite frankly, unfair.
In fact, research published in the European Journal of Social Psychology has shown that it takes 66 days for a consistent behavior to become a habit. This research makes it very clear that practicing a new skill over and over is essential to them adopting that skill as a habit and why it takes our kids a while before what we’re teaching them “sinks in.”
Learning how to be responsible only comes from being given a task to complete. Therefore, the only way can effectively teach our kids how to become responsible is by giving them a task (chore) to complete on their own.
If you have taught your kids how to complete specific tasks, but they consistently perform the task incorrectly, show them again. After showing them several times, they are responsible for completing the chore correctly.
Ultimately, this is the only way they will understand the importance of chores, learn to take responsibility for their chores, and grow as a person.
Now that we know why chores are important, how can we apply this information?
Well, one of the easiest ways to do this is by creating a chore chart with your kids that maps out your expectations and their specific chores.
But not all chores are created equal. So it’s important that you help your kids become successful by assigning chores that are appropriate for their age and ability.
Chores for Kids by Age
2-3 year olds
Children in this age group can do many different things and they LOVE being independent. So giving them their own chores will help them feel very important. It may take several reminders before they can do their chores independently, but they want to be included.
Some appropriate chores for toddlers to do include…
- Putting his/her shoes in the closet
- Placing a toy on a shelf or in a basket
- Carrying silverware to the table
- Helping load/unload the dishwasher by handing you items
- Helping take laundry out of the dryer and placing in the laundry basket
4-5 Year Olds
At this age, children have much better hand-eye coordination which allows them to be able to complete more tasks. They also can follow directions well (if they choose to).
Some appropriate chores for preschoolers to do include…
- Sorting clothes
- Putting folded clothes in drawers
- Setting the table for dinner
- Washing vegetables
- Packing a lunch or making a basic breakfast (cereal & milk)
6-7 Year Olds
When children are in first and second grade, they still want to please you. That’s why this age group does REALLY well with chore charts and behavior charts that include rewards!
Some appropriate chores to do include…
- Putting toys away
- Making a bed (although they may need a little help)
- Getting dressed independently
- Switching laundry from washer to dryer
- Unloading the dishwasher
8-9 Year Olds
Children at this age are capable of doing almost anything that they have been taught to do. They can follow multi-step directions and they are able to handle more responsibility.
Some appropriate chores to do include…
- Cutting vegetables (once they are taught how to handle a knife)
- Load the dishwasher
- Vacuum rugs
- Sweep the floor
- Dust furniture
Remember, every child is different, and it will take some children longer before they are capable of completing certain chores. These are just some ideas to get you thinking about what your child might be able to do at a given age.
One of the easiest ways to emphasize the importance of chores to your kids is by introducing chore charts. These charts are designed to help your kids have a visual reminder of the tasks that they should be completing each day.
I’ve created a free printable family chore chart which will serve as the “Master List” of everyone’s chores. I have also created an individual chore chart that you can use with your child to help him/her remember what to do every day.
After printing the individual chore chart, explain to your child that he/she will have chores to do each day. (Make sure that the number and difficulty of chores aligns with the age of your child.)
Once you and your child have decided on individual chores, show him/her that “chores” are going to be included on the behavior chart.
This will give your child an incentive to do the chores without complaint so they can earn more stickers. Because the sooner they get enough stickers, the sooner they get a reward!
We need to model, model, and model how to appropriately complete chores for our kids. I know it takes more time than it seems worth, but in the long run, you’re doing this to help your children understand the importance of chores by encouraging them to become self-sufficient individuals.