How to teach the kids about daily chores.

November 06, 2012

I had a phone parent meeting with my son’s teacher a few weeks back. One of the things she brought up is how amazing he is with cleaning up and with doing tasks. He tends to make her (faux) breakfast each morning, cleans up afterwards and is always ready to do chores. The truth is when I ask him to pick up after himself he does it, rarely complains. Yet I have not implemented a daily chore list or regime, I am typical Latin(or at least the Latin moms I know) mom and do everything. The teacher explained how it helps for children to do these home tasks for they feel that they are giving to the household even at a young age. So we are starting with specific chores every morning and evening, so far so good. I also intend to do a star chart on some more specific chores such as learning to make his bed and making sure his toy box is tidied before bed. 

Here are some great tips via Web MD:

The Value of Chores for Children

We all need to feel needed and to know that we’re making a contribution — even as kids, says Jim Fay, a parenting expert who co-founded the Love and Logic web site.

“But they can’t feel that way if they don’t have chores and make contributions to the family,” Fay says.

“A child has to have some responsibilities,” says Roger W. McIntire, PhD, author of Raising Good Kids in Tough Times and a University of Maryland psychology professor.

Now, how do you get your kids onboard?

Avoiding Common Mistakes Parents Make With Kids’ Chores

Don’t insist on perfection. No one is perfect, and it’s better to have a more relaxed approach to how well your child does their chores.

Otherwise, says McIntire, you might have a struggle on your hands. Or you might jump in and do it for them, which would undermine the whole point.

Don’t delay. You might think your child is too young. But your kids might be more capable than you think. Kids can do a lot of chores at an early stage, McIntire says. For example, getting clothes to the laundry or cleaning up after dinner. “We hold back too long because we think they ought to be ready first. But that puts the cart before the horse,” he says. That is, they’ll learn by doing.

Don’t be stingy with praise. Get that praise going right away! Don’t wait until the chore is done. Praise and encourage the child as they go along. You want to build positive momentum, especially with young kids.

Don’t be inconsistent. If your kids aren’t expected to regularly follow through, they might start putting off chores in the hope that someone else will do it for them, says Elizabeth Pantley, author of parenting books including Kid Cooperation: How to Stop Yelling, Nagging, and Pleading and Get Kids to Cooperate.

Make a Chores Chart

“Create a list of every job it takes to keep a family going,” says Fay. Have kids pick out the chores they’d most like to do.

Check that everyone has an age-appropriate chore. And then chart it like this:

  • Make three columns:
  • one for the list of chores, one for deadlines, and one where you can each make a check when the chore is completed.
  • You might find it easiest to have two charts: one for daily household chores and one for weekly household chores.

More tips:

  • Be specific with instructions. “‘Clean your room’ is vague and can be interpreted in any number of ways,” says Pantley. “Instead, be explicit by saying, ‘Put your clothes in the closet, books on the shelf, dishes in the kitchen, and toys in the toy box.’”
  • Ease into chores for children.First, show them how to do the chore, step by step. Next, let your child help you do it. And then have your child do the chore as you supervise. Once your child has it mastered, he’s ready to go solo.

Go easy with reminders and deadlines. You want the chore to get done without you micromanaging it. Use the “when/then” technique, such as, “When the pets are fed, then you may have your dinner,” Pantley suggests.

Allowance for Chores?

Should your child get an allowance for chores? Usually not, say most parenting experts.

Chores are partly about responsibility and partly about learning household tasks. They’re not focused on earning money.

Yes, kids need to learn how to handle money, but not by doing chores they’re supposed to do anyway.

It’s especially important to not tie allowances to chores for younger kids, Pantley says. That’s because a younger child may be less motivated by money and simply choose to not do them.

There’s an exception: For older kids who already know how to be responsible, money can become a nice motivator for doing extra chores above and beyond their usual tasks.

Fay suggests letting them bid on those extra chores, and picking the lowest bid.

Age-Appropriate Chores for Children

Your child may be able to do more than you think.

“Keep in mind that a child who has mastered a complicated computer game can easily run the dishwasher,” Pantley says.

In general, she says, preschoolers can handle one or two simple one-step or two-step jobs. Older children can manage more. Here are her pointers on kids’ chores by age:

Chores for children ages 2 to 3

  • Put toys away.
  • Fill pet’s food dish.
  • Put clothes in hamper.
  • Wipe up spills.
  • Dust.
  • Pile books and magazines.

Chores for children ages 4 to 5

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Make their bed.
  • Empty wastebaskets.
  • Bring in mail or newspaper.
  • Clear table.
  • Pull weeds, if you have a garden.
  • Use hand-held vacuum to pick up crumbs.
  • Water flowers.
  • Unload utensils from dishwasher.
  • Wash plastic dishes at sink.
  • Fix bowl of cereal.

Chores for children ages 6 to 7

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Sort laundry.
  • Sweep floors.
  • Set and clear table.
  • Help make and pack lunch.
  • Weed and rake leaves.
  • Keep bedroom tidy.

Chores for children ages 8 to 9

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Load dishwasher.
  • Put away groceries.
  • Vacuum.
  • Help make dinner.
  • Make own snacks.
  • Wash table after meals.
  • Put away own laundry.
  • Sew buttons.
  • Make own breakfast.
  • Peel vegetables.
  • Cook simple foods, such as toast.
  • Mop floor.
  • Take pet for a walk.

Chores for children ages 10 and older.

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Unload dishwasher.
  • Fold laundry.
  • Clean bathroom.
  • Wash windows.
  • Wash car.
  • Cook simple meal with supervision.
  • Iron clothes.
  • Do laundry.
  • Baby-sit younger siblings (with adult in the home).
  • Clean kitchen.
  • Clean oven.
  • Change their bedsheets.
Tips via Web Md By  Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD, Photo