When kids grow out of that toddler stage, it can be tough trying to figure out when’s the right age for responsibilities around the house; especially age-appropriate chores. Helping around the house, starting at a young age, will help create values they’ll appreciate for the rest of their lives. The Parenting Monkey site can help ease you into the transition between ages a little bit by giving you loads of information related to growing up and suggestions on parenting.
I feel that there are so many parents out there who just don’t want to mess up. They want their kids to enjoy their childhood but they also want them to learn responsibilities, yet don’t know when to start.
What would happen if you just stopped doing those little things that go unnoticed by them?
- Is your child acting entitled, as in they shouldn’t have to do anything themselves?
- Are you even having difficulty getting them to clean up their toys?
- What about appreciation; are they taking every little thing you do for them for granted by not acknowledging it?
There is no law or guideline stating when you should have your child start doing housework, but I would say as soon as they are able to basically walk. They may not know 100% what they are doing when you have them put the toys in their toy box, but if you’re repetitive with it, it will build a routine for them and they will eventually just start doing it automatically. This can happen even at a young age.
The best thing you can do for your child is to stop making excuses for them.
Say your child has Autism, there are some parents out there that will say, “Well, my child depends on me, s/he has Autism and can’t do things for him or herself.” Wrong. They can’t do things for themselves because you’re enabling that kind of mindset.
There is work that is appropriate for every age.
Tasks for 3-5-year-olds:
- Picking up their own toys
- Helping with the dishes; you could have them help dry or wash
- Cleaning up after themselves after they eat, i.e. putting their plate in the sink or dishwasher
- Feeding the animals, if they’re closer to 3 then you could help them know the right amount
- Making their beds
Tasks for 6-8-year-olds:
- Folding and putting away their clothes
- Cleaning their rooms
- Helping in the garden
- Watering indoor plants
Tasks for 9-11-year-olds:
- Doing dishes by themselves and putting them away
- Cleaning the litter box
- Cleaning pets poop, especially if they want a dog or puppy at this age
- Taking out the trash
Tasks for 12-14-year-olds:
- Mowing the lawn and raking
- Cleaning the bathroom
- Completely doing their own laundry
Tasks for 15-17-year-olds:
- Weed whacking
- Going to get groceries if they have their license
- Painting a room or the house
- Cutting branches
- Babysitting, which can either be counted as a chore or an early job depending on if it’s for their younger sibling or someone else’s kids
As your kids get older, you can pick and choose between any of the earlier housework tasks as well as the current age-appropriate ones for them to do. One way to get your younger kids to do these tasks, ages 7 and under, is to make a game out of it.
Some games include:
- Make up a song such as, “Clean up, clean up, everybody clean up.”
- Have a contest to see who can put the most toys away within the time limit
- Have a reward when they’re done
- Similar to the reward, have a consequence if they want to go to the park, for example, tell them they have to pick their room up or else they can’t go. Or if you’re really having trouble with them cleaning, and they’re throwing tantrums, tell them you will take one toy away for each day they have not picked up
For most kids, when they have an incentive, they have something to work towards and it gives them more motivation. However, you don’t always want to have an incentive because as a parent you will want them to learn the values of just accomplishing the chore itself.
Although you want to instill the feeling of a job well done sometimes without incentive, once your child gets a little older you could always show them weekly, bi-weekly or even monthly that hard work does pay off by giving them an allowance. You may wonder what’s too much or too little of an allowance.
Back in the day, the typical allowance ranged from $2 to $5 per week. Evaluate how much work your child put into their housework then estimate it out.
One way you could make cleaning fun where your child can still earn something at the end of it is making a list of how many points each chore will get. At the end of the week or month add up the points and have a prize or amount of money for each amount of points they earn.
The Point System
- If you reach 500 points, you will get $5 or you can choose anything in the store that is under $10
- If you reach 300 points, you will have a choice of $3 or a toy under $5
- If you reach 100 points you may get $1 or a small ice cream at the store
If your child has Autism, you could alter the tasks above while still keeping them age appropriate. You could put on their favorite song or do personality specific incentives to help motivate them; such as cooking their favorite dinner.
I know what some of you may be thinking, but I have tried some of these techniques yet my child just won’t listen. It’s all about repetition and molding the techniques to fit your child individually. Ultimately, when they’re younger, find what interests them and make the chores fun.
Overall, to get your child to do work, these are the approaches parents are saying they find most effective.
- Giving Incentive; allowance, toy, or letting them go somewhere they’ve been wanting to go
- Make a game out of it
- Give them lots of praise so they know the value of hard work
The Parenting Monkey site has several resources to help you get ideas and different approaches to parenting, especially when you’re at your breaking point. Remember, we are here for you. It’s okay to not be a perfect parent and to get frustrated sometimes; don’t be ashamed to look for resources that will help make parenting even a little easier for you.