Children and Chores

I just read a great article about children and chores. If you would like to read the whole thing for yourself head here, but let me share some of my questions and answers it provided for me.

Should I ask my children to do chores? Aren’t they meant to just “be kids” and enjoy life?

Jim Fay, co-founder of the Love and Logic website, says we all need to feel needed and to know that we’re making a contribution — even kids. “But they can’t feel that way if they don’t have chores and make contributions to the family,” Fay says.

I love this affirmation that chores are not simply Mom or Dad using their children to get work done around the house, but giving children an opportunity to feel they are making an important addition to the family.

How do I get my children to do the chores in the first place?

Don’t be scared to start with chores at a young age.  This will allow the habits to fall into place and already give those children the sense of accomplishment. Don’t insist on perfection. Work with the children as they learn the steps of each chore and then step back to an observation role. If it’s not perfect, that’s ok! Do offer consistent and true praise for the work they are doing.

If you missed the opportunity to start with chores at a young age (as I have), don’t be scared to start now.  It might take some extra encouragement and determination, but everyone can learn this new habit.

How do we decide who gets what chores?

The article suggested sitting down with the kids with a list of jobs that need to be accomplished around the house.  Allow the kids to share input into which jobs they would like to have and then give them the understanding they will also get some jobs they would rather not have.  If children are similar in age and can handle rotating jobs, consider some sort of rotation in which they won’t be taking care of the same chore forever.

I really like this idea of letting the children have input into what chores they would like to take on. If they see the positives of getting that job done, they will be much more likely to do it willingly.

Finally – what chores are age appropriate?

Here are some examples from Elizabeth Pantley, author of parenting books including Kid Cooperation: How to Stop Yelling, Nagging, and Pleading and Get Kids to Cooperate

Chores for children ages 2 to 3

  • Put toys away
  • Fill pet’s food dish
  • Put clothes in hamper
  • Wipe up spills
  • Dust
  • Pile books and magazines

Chores for children ages 4 to 5

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Make their bed
  • Empty wastebaskets
  • Bring in mail or newspaper
  • Clear table
  • Pull weeds, if you have a garden
  • Use hand-held vacuum to pick up crumbs
  • Water flowers
  • Unload utensils from dishwasher
  • Wash plastic dishes at sink
  • Fix bowl of cereal

Chores for children ages 6 to 7

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Sort laundry
  • Sweep floors
  • Set and clear table
  • Help make and pack lunch
  • Weed and rake leaves
  • Keep bedroom tidy

Chores for children ages 8 to 9

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Load dishwasher
  • Put away groceries
  • Vacuum
  • Help make dinner
  • Make own snacks
  • Wash table after meals
  • Put away own laundry
  • Sew buttons
  • Make own breakfast
  • Peel vegetables
  • Cook simple foods, such as toast
  • Mop floor
  • Take pet for a walk

Chores for children ages 10 and older.

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Unload dishwasher
  • Fold laundry
  • Clean bathroom
  • Wash windows
  • Wash car
  • Cook simple meal with supervision
  • Iron clothes
  • Do laundry
  • Baby-sit younger siblings (with adult in the home)
  • Clean kitchen
  • Change their bed sheets
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