Whether your children are responsible for completing chores or not, most parents will say they desire their children to be involved in helping out around the house. Here are some ways, you can use with your kids, to teach them what responsibility is. I’ve created an age appropriate list of chores but keep in mind that not all children are at the same developmental level and you may need to cater the list to your family’s needs.
1) Ages 1-2: At this age, children are only capable of putting a few toys into a bucket/basket. During the second year of life, children do not have the cognitive skill to know when to pick up their toys or where they belong. It never hurts to start them young by showing them how to put away a toy.
2) Ages 2-3: By now, your child is capable of cleaning up a few more toys or personal items. They will continue to need your assistance, as putting away a room full of toys will be overwhelming for your toddler. Guide them in detail what they need to clean up, how to do it, and where it belongs. To avoid a tantrum outburst give them plenty of warning before hand. Let them know several minutes before cleaning that they will be stopping their play and cleaning up. At this age, they enjoy helping people because it makes them feel loved and appreciated. Be sure you shower them with praise for helping you clean up.
3) Ages 3-6: You may think that at this age they will now be independent with cleaning, needing little guidance. However, for these preschool/kindergarteners messiness can still be overwhelming. Guide your young one by breaking their chores up. For instance, you can clean up the puzzles while you have your child clean up the trains and cars. This is also the age where they can begin to assist with other chores around the house. Dishes are a great chore to start with. Allow them to empty the dishwasher. Go in first and put away any dangerous items such as knives and breakables. Keep non-breakables, such as plastic containers, in low cupboards so your child can put them away. Keep in mind that after they leave the room you may have to re-organize everything they put away but remember that they learned how to help and be a part of the family in a tangible way.
4) Ages 6-9: This is a great age where kids are capable of almost any chore. They still enjoy helping out as long as it is fun. At this age, you can teach your children how to sweep floors, mop and even clean bathrooms. They may not do they job as well as you would have but they will get it done and feel proud that they have contributed to the family responsibility. It will be easy for this age group to get bored cleaning. Make it fun by turning up their favorite music or by making a game out of cleaning.
5) Ages 9-12: By now, you can begin refining your child’s housekeeping skills and you can begin looking forward to the day when you get a break from cleaning duties. All of the chores they learned in the previous years can now be done with excellence. Teach them that they do chores to learn how to be responsible when they are older and that they live in the home and therefore need to pitch in their share of family responsibility. There is never an age where you can quit encouraging your kids. Let them know when they do a good job. This is a great age to instill the value of serving others. “Train up a child when he is young and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6
6) Ages 12-15: At this age, young teens are testing their independence. They need you more than ever but seem to go to their friends, in time of need, more often then ever before. Do not loose hope. Continue to make them complete their chores. I know that some parents do not want to deal with the attitude or they feel bad like there are not allowing their child enough free time. My advice is to help them change their attitude and make your children complete their chores. Have you ever had an activity at work that you did not feel like completing? Did you whine, complain and tell your boss you were not going to do what he/she asked just because you did not want to? That type of attitude does not work in the real world. Now is a great time to teach your young teens what it means to push through even when you don’t want to because they will be proud of themselves and in the end they will have learned that life doesn’t always revolve around them but instead we all have some form of authority that we have to submit to.
7) Ages 15-18: This is the age of teen freedom. They drive or are beginning to drive. They spend a lot of time studying, preparing for college, and hanging out with friends. At this age, I recommend assigning your kids chores written on a list. Let them know that you trust that they are responsible and dependable, but with freedom comes responsibility. You can begin to let them plan their own schedule but make your chore expectations clear. Show them the list you made and tell them that you do not mind when they are done as long as they are done some time that day. If they do not do their chores give immediate consequences such as restriction from their phone, television, internet, or friends. Be consistent. These years are crucial to their development as a young adult.
Do not stress, take it one-step at a time. It is all up to you to instill these principles and values into your children. If you want to see young adults who respect others, who are dependable and responsible then follow these simples steps. Having your child do chores is more than just keeping a clean house; it is about raising responsible, reliable, respectful children