Determining when your child is ready to help around the house and what he or she should be helping with is no easy task. Suddenly, you’ll start wondering aloud, wait, when did I start helping around the house as a child? Was I cooking and cleaning at five? Of course, you’ll eventually remember that you weren’t baby Rachel Ray or Martha Stewart, and you’ll realize that you need to decide on age-appropriate chores for your child.
To keep things simple, focus less on the specific chore you’re considering and more on what a child can handle and should be learning at a particular age. For example, instead of trying to determine whether your child can realistically mop the floor, think about whether that task would benefit him or her. Ideally, it should be a task that is both feasible and something your child can learn from.
Still stuck? Don’t worry; we’re here to help. Here are some ideas for age-appropriate chores:
At this age, your child is just ready to start with some simple chores. These types of chores should be both easy to accomplish and centered on your child. They should be a light reinforcement that someone has been picking up after their messes, helping to teach him or her to be more aware of his or her actions.
Examples: Put laundry in hamper, pick up toys, throw away trash after snacks or meals
Once he or she moves out of the toddler years, your child should be ready to help with tasks not directly related to him or her. With that said, he or she is still not ready for entirely independent assignments. Pick chores that will help your child realize the value of helping others.
Examples: Set table, load dishwasher, take laundry to laundry room
Starting at age 6, your child slowly becomes prepared for more independent tasks. This is also a good age to introduce some outdoor chores as well. You can offer assistance at first, but don’t be afraid to let your child start to do these alone. With every small job completed, your child’s self-confidence will grow.
Examples: Empty dishwasher, rake leaves, water plants
Once your child is comfortable working independently, they’re usually ready for a few more complex chores. Around age 9, your child may be ready to tackle some newer and more challenging items into his or her list. Just remember that your child will almost certainly need some help from you again with these new tasks, especially the first few times.
Examples: Vacuum carpet, mop floors, easy food preparation
Whenever you decide that your child is ready to help around the house, make sure to be conscious of how you frame new responsibilities. At young ages, children will be excited to help around the house. Consider using this Gerber Life “Chore Chart” as a fun reminder of their success and a helpful reminder of what needs to be done if they are forgetful. The real goal should not be to get help around the house (although, let’s be honest, that’s pretty nice) but to create positive habits that will last a lifetime