Ages 2 and 3
Toddlers love to help with chores, and while their helping may not always be as helpful as we would hope, keeping their excitement and the habit of helping out alive, is worth the extra effort on our part. Lots of toddlers love to see a visual reminder of their success, making sticker charts a great choice. Although chores may only be completed with you helping each step of the way, you are creating positive habits for children who will find chores and helping a way of life.
Some chores 2-3 year olds can do…
Help make the bed.
Pick up toys and books.
Take laundry to the laundry room.
Help feed pets.
Help wipe up messes.
Dust with socks on their hands.
Mop in areas with help.
Ages 4 and 5
The great thing about preschool aged kids is that they are still fairly motivated to help. Preschoolers also love individual time with adults. If you take some time to teach them new chores one on one, they will usually love it. Many kids at this age are ready to do chores without constant supervision. Kids at this stage love rewards, and they don't have to be huge. Try using a sticker chart that allows them to build up to bigger rewards. For some preschoolers, tying chores to an allowance is a great choice. This can also foster independence by allowing them to choose a reward.
Some chores preschoolers can do in addition to the ones above…
Clear and set the table.
Help out in cooking and preparing food.
Carrying and putting away groceries.
Although enthusiasm for chores may diminish for school-aged kids, they have other redeeming qualities that work well for chores. What most school-aged children have in abundance is an overwhelming desire to be independent. Parents and caregivers can guide children to become self-sufficient in their chores by using chore charts to keep track of their responsibilities. Be sure to keep track of completed responsibilities because this will help motivate children to continue working.
Some chores that they are capable of in addition to the ones above…
Take care of pets.
Vacuum and mop.
Take out trash.
Fold and put away laundry.
This older group of children suddenly becomes capable of a lot of things in a short amount of time. Kids at this age will appreciate a set schedule and expectations. Try throwing a lot of unexpected work at them and watch them get upset. But if you create a schedule or system with a little input from them, you'll find a smooth transition. It's best to find a system that works for your family. Try not to change it without the input and support of the people it directly affects. Part of this system should address rewards and negative consequences for chores so that these results are laid out and understood in advance.
Most teenagers are capable of handling nearly any chore in the home, as long as they've been taught properly. One thing to be sensitive to, however, is the cramped schedule that many teenagers find themselves with. Just as we get overwhelmed when we have too much to do, teenagers can find themselves struggling to maintain an unmanageable workload. Monitor your teens schedule and adjust activities and chores accordingly.
Some chores teenagers are capable of in addition to the ones above…
Replace light bulbs and vacuum cleaner bags.
All parts of the laundry.
Clean out refrigerator and other kitchen appliances.
Prepare grocery lists.
Remember that children mature at their own pace and not all kids will be capable of advanced chores at the same age, just as some children may be ready for more difficult chores at a younger age. The most important guidelines are supervision and evaluation of your child’s needs and abilities. Be sure to advance your child through more challenging chores as they master the basic ones. It can be easy to let a child keep performing the same chores because they are good at them, but introducing new chores at regular intervals will actually benefit them in the long wrong. Be sure to institute a "training period" with new chores where you are teaching them the ins and outs of how to clean properly.