Without chores, children may think that life is all about fun and games. Well, it pretty much is at their age, but even so, getting them started on some simple chores while they are young has its merits. Chief among them, it teaches responsibility and gives you some extra help around the house, especially once they master these necessary skills.
In full honesty though, you can’t expect much out of a two or three-year-old when it comes to chores. Still, forging on has benefits. Starting chores young ensures that as a child ages, they will grow and develop the solid skills to complete these tasks as part of a regular routine. Before you get started doling out responsibility, keep these general ideas in your mind about doing chores with young children:
- Don’t insist on perfection. Young kids are not going to get it right the first, second or even third time. Making it fun and allowing them to master their contribution on their own time is the best way to make them feel good about their responsibility.
- Be specific. Young kids do not do well with the overarching “clean your room” command. However, if you give them specific tasks such as sweeping the floor, picking up toys and dusting, they are more capable of getting the job done.
- Have fun! Make chores fun by playing music and giving lots of praise throughout the process. This is not a time to hold back on the accolades.
Show your kids that they are doing a great job by telling them as they work, which will keep them motivated to continue.
Developmentally, young children can get started with simple chores by the age of 2 or 3 years old. While precise order is not the goal, there are plenty of ways they can contribute around the house.
Children ages 2 to 3 are able to best complete chores that involve one or two steps. Select simple tasks such as:
- Picking up toys
- Filling a pet’s food dish
- Placing dirty clothes in hamper
- Wiping up spills
By ages 4 to 5, children can move onto some more complex chores around the house. Along with any of the chores for younger children, at this age group kids can also:
- Make their bed
- Clear the table
- Water plants
- Pull weeds
- Bring in the mail
- Sort recyclables
As a child enters first grade, they can begin to take on even more complicated tasks around the house. Some great chores to add to a child’s routine at this age include:
- Sorting laundry
- Setting the table
- Packing their own lunch
- Loading the dishwasher
- Unloading groceries
- Raking leaves
- Cleaning their bedroom
A chore chart is a functional and fun way for kids to track their contributions to the greater good of the family. Make a simple chart using construction paper and a pen, or customize and print one out like this one to keep track of everyone’s responsibilities. A magnetized chore chart is also a fun, easy and waste-free way to keep track of chores.
If you choose to make your own, three columns to outline the chores, deadline and completion of the chore are typically all that is needed to get going. Stickers or stamps can make the chart even more motivational for some children, while others are happy to make a check mark when the task is completed. Some families choose to associate rewards such as allowance or special treats with completion of chores as well, and if you want to do this, a chore chart is a great way to keep track of goals.
Do what is right for your family, and begin integrating your young children in the family chore routine.
Before long, they will be accustomed to taking responsibility around the house, you will have less work left on your plate and the order of your house will benefit.