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When should kids start chores?


At annual well visits, a question I often ask is, “What chores do you do?”, if the child is older, and “What chores does your child do?”, if the child is younger. Sometimes, the parents of younger children give me a bewildered look. Children need to learn responsibility early in life, so that they can grow up to become responsible older children and adults.


But, what chores are appropriate for kids? For starters, cleaning up toys and putting clothes in the laundry basket can start as young as 2 years. These are simple tasks that are developmentally appropriate.


Attached is a kitchen chore chart, broken down by age, courtesy of www.superhealthykids.com and www.happyhealthymama.com



2-3 years

  • set the table

  • sweep small areas

  • change dish towels

  • fill water glasses


4-5 years

  • sort clean silverware

  • help unload dishwasher

  • help put away groceries

  • clear dishes from table

  • use handheld vacuum

  • fold dishtowels

  • clean appliances


6-7 years

  • empty dishwasher

  • clear the table (including food)

  • help with simple food preparation (also helps with getting kids to try new foods)

  • dust mop floors


8-9 years

  • load the dishwasher

  • empty trash

  • wipe counters

  • handwash larger dishes


10-11 years

  • help with meal planning

  • prepare simple meals


12 and up

  • mop floors

  • cook complete family meal


As far as jobs outside the kitchen, with older kids, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no push-mowing before 12 years of age, and no riding lawn-mowing before 16 years of age. Babysitters should have CPR training, and, ideally take a babysitting class.


I'm sure some of you are groaning right now.....”But I can do it quicker myself”, but that isn't what this is about. It's about giving your child responsibility, and, if they don't get it quite right, it teaches them that they aren't perfect, and can learn to do better.


Too many children leave home not knowing how to do much of anything for themselves, and when they try, and fail, they don't know how to handle it. As parents, we do them no favors by not giving them any responsibility at home.



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