Chores: What’s Appropriate?

A dilemma most parents face—whether cyber schooling or not—is if and when to begin assigning chores to their children, and what chores are suitable for what ages. If the internet is any indication, the belief that chores are an appropriate and important part of growing up, as the prevalence of sites, blogs, and articles on the benefits of and suggestions for chores greatly outweigh those speaking out against

Most experts (and non-experts, too) seem to agree that doing chores teaches kids responsibility (and gives you some help around the house!). Rabbi Shmuley, perhaps best known for his television show Shalom in the Home, argues that if children don’t help out with chores when they are younger, it can set the stage for their behavior as an adult. He explains, “Children get used to having things done for them. The result is that children feel entitled and parents are demoted to being a cleaning person.” Children need to play a role in the family, and chores are a way of giving children a role in the household, he says. “Kids can—and should—start doing chores from a very young age,” Rabbi Shmuley says. Links to his  suggestions for chores at every age and guidelines for assigning them to your children can be found here.

Parenting expert Jim Fay, co-founder of the Love and Logic website, agrees that chores are important, for yet another reason. He argues that each of us needs to feel needed and know 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. (Divide and Conquer Household Chores,

Chores, Life Skills, and Maturity

When considering what chores to assign your children, be sure you recognize the difference between a chore and a life skill. The Focus on the Family web site helpfully defines these two terms: while a chore is an ongoing task that benefits the household, a life skill is an activity that children should know how to do before living on their own, such as managing a checking account. When creating chores, be sure not to confuse the two.

Also keep in mind that every child matures at a different pace. Make sure that you create and adjust the chore list based on what you know about your child’s skills and talents.

How To

WebMD’s article has great advice on how to begin assigning chores for your child. For example, avoid these pitfalls:

  • Don’t insist on perfection.
  • Don’t delay.
  • Don’t be stingy with praise.
  • Don’t be inconsistent.

The article also advises making a Chores Chart and discusses allowances for chores. There are literally hundreds of Chores Charts available on the internet. Take some time to research and find the one that works best for you.

Lastly, to get you started, here are some common chores for each age. This is by no means an exhaustive list, as your family may have needs not mentioned here. Make sure to customize the chores for the way your family operates and the skills your children have.

2-4 Years

“Help” is the important word at this age. Many of the chores will be done as a helper and slowly kids can graduate to doing them independently!

  • Help dust
  • Help put away toys
  • Put laundry in hamper
  • Help feed pet

4-7 Years

“Help” is still important at this age, too.

  • Help make bed
  • Help put dishes in dishwasher
  • Help wipe up messes
  • Help with yard work (rake with child’s rake or plant flowers, etc.)
  • Help clear table
  • Help put away groceries
  • Empty wastebaskets
  • Bring in mail or newspaper

8-10 Years

  • Make bed
  • Clean room with direction
  • Vacuum
  • Help make dinner
  • Help wash dishes
  • Help load/empty dishwasher
  • Rake leaves
  • Take pet for a walk
  • Take out the trash

11 Years and Older

  • Clean the bathroom with direction
  • Clean the kitchen
  • Fold laundry
  • Mow lawn
  • Help with laundry and eventually start doing own laundry
  • Help make dinner/make small meals on own
  • Shovel snow
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