Every parent knows the struggle of asking their child to do a small chore, only to be greeted by resistance (“Why? My friends don’t have to do chores!”) or procrastination (“Can I watch this show first?”). Let’s be honest, getting kids to do chores can feel a bit like herding cats. After all the reminding and prodding and feet dragging, even if your child completes a task (helps with the dishes, puts away their clothes, makes their bed, etc.), you may have to redo it anyway.
So why not save yourself the hassle and headaches and do the chore yourself in the first place? Well, because like many of the hard parts of parenting, instituting chores for children is actually beneficial to your kids in the long run. The key is figuring out what chores are age-appropriate for your kid and making those chores part of your regular routine.
How Chores Can Benefit Your Kids
To convince you that the effort of requiring your kids to do chores is actually worth it, there is a plethora of research on the benefits of chores for children. Research shows that children as young as 3 can benefit from being included in the family chore routine.
A study published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics found that children who did regular chores in kindergarten had better social, academic, and life skills in third grade when compared to peers who did not do chores (these findings were independent of sex, family income, and parent education).
Another study, published by the University of Minnesota by Professor Marty Rossman, showed that the best predictor of participants’ success in their mid-20’s was if they did chores when they were 3 or 4 years old. Chores for children can lead to better mental health, greater self-sufficiency, and success-- all things every parent wants for their kid.
Age Appropriate Chores for Children
Of course, there is a flip-side. When chores are too difficult for the age of the child or a child is given more responsibility than they can handle, children can experience negative consequences like lower self-esteem, increased stress, and depression.
The key to success with childhood chores is to figure out how many chores a child should have and what chores are age-appropriate. This calculus will depend on your particular child’s abilities and obligations. But once you’ve determined an appropriate chore list, make those chores part of your regular family routine.
Chore Ideas for Kids Ages 2-5
Young children can absolutely help with the family chores. Some chore ideas for kids aged 2-5 include picking up their toys, bringing their dishes to the sink, putting away their folded clothes, helping with a pet, watering plants, dusting.
Chore Ideas for Kids Ages 6-10
Elementary school aged children can begin taking more responsibility and can often do tasks without too much supervision. Kids this age might sweep the floors, load and empty the dishwasher, make their own lunch, feed family pets, help with dinner, clean their bedroom, fold laundry, or vacuum.
Chore Ideas for Kids Ages 11+
Once your kid reaches middle school and adolescence, their ability to do most chores will usually be limited by time and interest. This is a great time to give them some more choice over what chores they take on. Kids this age might be able to cook a family meal, completely clean any room of the house (bathroom, kitchen, etc.), do their own laundry, or mow the lawn.
Chores for Kids Benefit the Whole Family
Allowing your child to be a part of the family chore routine can be a long-term gift to both yourself and your children. Children who engage in age-appropriate chore routines are more likely to grow up to be responsible, self-assured, more successful adults-- huge benefits that are definitely worth a little cat herding.