Big Kid Helpers: Age-Appropriate Chores for Your Child

Before you were a parent, did you ever think you’d have to ask, “How did that stuffed octopus get stuck in the ceiling fan?” Or maybe you find your wallet in Davy Jones’ Locker at the bottom of your aquarium. When you have a preschooler, there are probably some days when it looks like a toy tornado has whipped its way through your house. It’s hard to keep up with the rate of mess kids create. But if you start to teach your children early that everyone needs to chip in to taking care of the household duties, you’re going to instill a sense of responsibility in them, and preserve your time and sanity when you have a little bit of help around the house.

Keep in mind that younger kids may sometimes be less “help” when they complete their chores, but it’s important to let them practice without being criticized. Just make gentle corrections by showing them the proper way to complete their chores and eventually they will fully understand the task and have the motor skills to do it just like you showed them.

Children can start helping around the house as young as age 18 months. Here are some age-appropriate chores for your children.

Ages 18 months to 2 years

Younger children can vary greatly in development and skills, so you can adjust these based on your child’s abilities. These chores will need to be very basic and take a short amount of time. Also, when your children are this age, get used to the idea that you may be doing a lot of clean-up after their chores are done.

  • Pick up their own toys and put them in a toy box
  • Retrieve diapers and wipes and throw away dirty diapers
  • Put dirty clothing in a hamper
  • Put their own shoes away
  • Fluff cushions
  • Put away (non-sharp) silverware

Ages 2 and 3 years

At these ages, it’s best to closely supervise and help out with chores. Children at this age have shorter attention spans. Reward your child with something simple for helping out, like a sticker, a high five or a silly song and celebratory dance.

  • Pick up their own toys and put them in a toy box
  • Make their beds
  • Put their dirty laundry in the hamper
  • Dust
  • Help sweep and vacuum
  • Help feed the family pet
  • Put books away on the shelf
  • Throw away trash
  • Fold washcloths
  • Wash fruits and veggies
  • Put away canned groceries

Ages 4 and 5 years

By the time your child reaches age 4, he’s ready for a chore chart. Your child may still need help and supervision, but you can step back a little from the level of help of their toddler days. A little positive reinforcement will still go a long way, so don’t forget to thank your child and give a little reward for a job well done.

  • Clear the dishes off the table
  • Help prepare meals
  • Help carry in light bags from the grocery store
  • Bring toys and belongings in from the car to the house
  • Hang up towels after a bath
  • Dry mop the floor
  • Help wipe up spills
  • Water plants and flowers
  • Put away silverware (but not sharp knives)
  • Match and fold socks
  • Put folded laundry away
  • Pull weeds
  • Take out the trash
  • Carry laundry to the washing machine
  • Hang up coats
  • Set the table (without sharp knives)
  • Get the mail
  • Help put groceries away
  • Turn off lights when leaving the room
  • Help bathe and brush pets (depending on the size of the pet and how much it likes bath time)

The more you have your child practice doing chores, the more you will see him or her start to do simple tasks without being asked. The behavior will become automatic.  This leads to greater organization, cleanliness and peace of mind – which you deserve after picking up all those dirty socks in the hallway.

Find out what kind of “chores” your child does at Sparkles! Contact your child’s teacher or a staff member for more information.

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