It is a fact: children that help with house chores develop a stronger sense of belonging and are more likely to become responsible teens and adults later on in life.
Which means it is equally important on this long journey to define age-appropriate chores your children can effectively do by themselves.
Pick something they are not prepared for and that will lead to frustration for both sides.
Pick the right tasks and they will feel engaged to complete them, feeling part of the family in all possible senses.
To help you finding the right chores for your children, here is a list of appropriate chores by age:
(click the respective link if you want to chores for a specific age, otherwise keep reading for all ideas)
Ages 2 and 3
Ah, the toddler years, so much learning happening and so much potential ahead of them; what a great time to be a parent as well, right?
Here is a list of chores appropriate for children aged between 2 and 3 years:
- Help making their own bed (you can start by asking them to make a smaller bed for a doll, for instance)
- Pick up their toys (easier if you do it with them, not necessarily by collecting anything, but by counting the total together, doing by colour, etc…)
- Put some of their dirty laundry into the dirty basket
- Give water and food to pets (must be supervised at all times!)
- Help parents with small clean ups, like after a spill
- Dust some pieces of furniture in their own room or around the house
Ages 4 and 5
The pre-school years are precious! Kids at this stage are developing a natural sense of independency, so it is natural to come up with tasks that exercise this behaviour.
Here is a list of chores appropriate for children aged between 4 and 5 years:
- Get dressed with minimal to none parental help (your back will certainly be happy)
- Make their own bed pretty much by themselves (you might need to help every now and then)
- Bring their things from the car back into the house
- Pick up their toys (ensure they have a proper place to store their toys)
- Wash hands after playing outside and before eating
- Set the table before a meal (start easy with just the tablecloth, for instance)
- Clear the table after a meal (should always be fully supervised)
- Help with food preparation (of course, do not let them handle sharp things)
- Help unload groceries after shopping (light items only)
- Sort laundry by colour
- Match socks so they can be hung together after washing
- Answer the phone (when the number is known)
- Hang up their towel in the bathroom
- Clean floors with a dry mop
- Clean and dust more items in their bedroom
Ages 6 and 7
Part of the elementary years and children should now feel empowered to complete more tasks on their own; they can also be stimulated to make small decisions as part of their household chores.
Here is a list of chores appropriate for children aged between 6 and 7 years:
- Make their own bed every day
- Brush teeth
- Comb their hair
- Get dressed by choosing the clothes they want to wear for the day (help them if you now the weather is going to change)
- Write thank you notes for friends, teachers, or other relevant people they care (make sure to review the message before it is delivered)
- Be primarily responsible for a pet: feed, water, exercise, etc… (keep an eye to make sure nothing is being forgotten however)
- Vacuum individual rooms of the house (start with the ones with fewer pieces of furniture / fewer obstacles)
- Dust individual rooms (avoid rooms with fragile items initially)
- Organise their clothes back into their own drawers (help with some tips)
- Help with food preparation
- Clean their room when asked
- Empty indoor/kitchen trash cans
- Answer the phone (even for unknown callers, but must be supervised in this case)
Ages 8 to 11
The final age bracket in which reward charts are still effective, children at this stage are likely to be fully equipped to execute a variety of tasks around the house, increasing their repertoire of personal chores.
Here is a list of chores appropriate for children aged between 8 and 11 years:
- Take full care of their personal hygiene
- Maintain bedroom clean and organised
- Be responsible for homework, including schedules and future events
- Keep track of their belongings when going out with family
- Set up an alarm clock and wake up at the right time
- Do the dishes (it is wise to not let them deal with delicate or fragile items)
- Help mom or dad wash the family car
- Help preparing some easy meals (or they can also organise ingredients before cooking)
- Turn on the washing machine or dishwasher
- Put the rubbish outside, ready for collection
- Help testing the smoke alarms (with close supervision)
- Handle simple phone calls and/or give phone to the right person to answer
Ages 12 and 13
The beginning of the teenage years, this period is marked by an impressive progress in their awareness and abilities to accomplish tasks. With the appropriate stimuli children are expected to demonstrate values to be carried over for the rest of their lives.
Here is a list of chores appropriate for teenagers aged between 12 and 13 years:
- Take full care of individual homework and personal hygiene
- Set their alarm clock consistently
- Maintain personal items functional at all times (for example, recharging the batteries of their phones before it runs flat in the middle of the day)
- Change fitted sheets and other bed linen.
- Help mom and dad with an occasional deep cleaning
- Change light bulbs (make sure to help them reach the ceiling and always supervise the operation – otherwise start easier with a bedside lamp, for instance)
- Empty the vacuum bag when it’s full
- Operate a handheld or stick vacuum cleaner
- Clean mirrors
- Prepare more elaborate dishes (help them with the proportions if they are not following a recipe precisely)
Ages 14 and 15
They are halfway through their teenage years and you might think they have already learned everything they need for life? Truth is that most of the core values are yet to fully mature and they need your help to reinforce them.
Here is a list of chores appropriate for teenagers aged between 14 and 15 years:
- Be able to execute all tasks for teenagers between 12 and 13 (above) autonomously
- Be able to handle book loans and their returning to the library
- Handle assigned homework without any prompt from parents (it is, however, always wise for parents to show interest in what children are learning at school)
- Clean front and backyards
- Babysit a younger brother or sister
- Do groceries shopping (with a list of items prepared in advance)
- Verify expiry dates of products in the pantry and organise them (put the ones close to the expiry date in front of the rest)
- Wash windows with supervision
Ages 16 to 18
The teenage years are almost gone, which means adult life is about to start.
Are they going to start living by themselves any time soon or are they going to be make you company for some extra lovely years? Either way, it is time to solidify all the learning so far.
Here is a list of chores appropriate for teenagers aged between 16 and 17 years:
- Be able to execute all tasks for teenagers between 14 and 15 (above) autonomously
- Understand the value of money and be able to spend wisely (for a teenager, that is)
- Manage a certain budget so they can buy their own clothes
- When they start driving, be able to inspect the car for any important lights or alerts, general cleaning, fuel, basic maintenance, etc…
- Be able to prepare family meals and serve them
And that completes our list of chores by age for children (and teenagers).
Do you have anything to add based on your experience? Feel free to leave a comment below!
Ready to start?
To help you start off on the right foot, here are some suggestions of reward chart templates for you: