We all know about the dilemma of raising kids. Especially when it comes to a generation in which there are more distractions available than any other given time. And there’s no doubt that sometimes it’s almost too convenient for you to rely on outside distractions to occupy your kids. But have you ever stopped to think of the impact distractions actually have on your children? You may have heard any number of terms used to describe today’s tweens. Lazy. Selfish. Entitled. Tech-addicted. Irresponsible.
No parent wants to be considered a culprit in this trend—particularly if it’s not in the least bit rooted in truth. It’s a peculiar habit of naysayers to only look at part of any given phenomenon with a critical eye. They simply can’t look at the whole picture of what you face as a parent in today’s hectic lifestyle. A fifty hour work week. A revolving hat rack as mother, chauffeur, friend, chef, role model and super hero.
It can be overwhelming. Especially when it comes time to assigning chores. But your kid’s room won’t clean itself. And more importantly? By not being able to teach your kids about chores, you’re not only teaching them it’s OK to leave a mess behind. You may actually be stunting their development. Recent studies have shown that children who spend more time on chores are actually healthier and better equipped to become independent and productive adults than children who only spend a minimal amount of time on daily tasks.
But there are studies—and then there’s good old-fashioned parental wisdom passed down from generation to generation. Chores don’t simply contribute to a child’s social development. They affect their self esteem. Chores teach children they can also contribute to a family, enabling them to feel a personal sense of pride and accomplishment which is immeasurable. They teach self-reliance—and subsequently, self worth.
It might seem like teaching your children about chores is a chore in and of itself. But it doesn’t have to be. Educating your kids about the value of chores doesn’t just help provide them with the necessary foundation to become productive adults. It can bring you closer together as a family.
Chores And A Healthy Family
Times have changed drastically from when you were a child. A constant push to excel and compete in the classroom has frequently overburdened children with expectations which they’re not always prepared for. Our kids devote such an exorbitant amount of their free time to homework and extracurricular activities that there’s very little time to even be a kid, much less a contributing member of a family unit.
The effect can be confusing for a child. On the one hand, they’ve come to expect you to provide a model for their development. On the other, they’re also expected to rely on figures outside of their immediate family to provide structure and instruction. Compounding this is a friction that comes about when a child’s natural inclination towards self expression and play is stifled by requirements they don’t quite understand. After all, they want to spend an extra hour playing their favorite video game. Now, you expect them to make their bed on top of learning multiplication tables?
But if there’s one universal trait among children it’s their need for unconditional acceptance. They want to make you happy. They want your approval. And they’re looking to you as the one person they know can provide guidance and encouragement. And while chores might seem like an “easy win” for kids, their cumulative effects can help provide them with the necessary skills they need to succeed as adults: self esteem, responsibility, productivity and compromise.
What Are Age Appropriate Chores For My Child?
Unfortunately, there’s no single answer to how appropriate any series of chores are for your children. Every child has their own specific pace in development, both physically and psychologically. What was relevant for you at the age of 6 may not be at all relevant to your eight-year old.
But generally speaking, it’s better to establish a routine of chores for your children at an early age. Some parents have found that children as young as two years old can easily adapt to this sort of change in their daily lives. However, the key is to introduce chores to your children gradually—and without a stern set of demands. Rather, they should be suggested, perhaps reinforced by a reward system which can also help teach them cause and effect.
Start slowly. Don’t try to overwhelm your child with a barrage of daily tasks automatically, as you’d ultimately wind up confusing them. You need to make certain that keeping track of chores is as natural and necessary as nap time, play time and eating. Again, slowly ease your children into their chores. Pick a small task which can be accomplished a few days a week. If need be, remind them gently but firmly. Over time, your child’s attitude towards chores will become automatic. Not only will they come to expect them… they’ll actually look forward to them!
We included some suggestions for age appropriate chores below. As we said, many of these may depend on your child’s own personal development and should not be considered set in stone. It may be that your children can only complete some of them. It can also be that your child finds them too limiting. In fact, we’ve heard of children suggesting chores on their own! But these are approximate standards you may want to use to gauge your child’s personal sense of responsibility.
Ages 2 – 3 Years Old:
- Cleaning up after spills
- Clearing away any mess they left behind on the kitchen table for dinner or lunch
- Helping to sort and put away groceries
- Light dusting (very light, and with no harsh chemicals!)
- Picking up their toys
- Picking up clothes and placing them in a laundry basket
Ages 4 – 6 Years Old:
- Feeding pets
- Making light snacks for themselves
- Making their own bed
- Setting the table for dinner
- Watering plants
Ages 7 – 9 Years Old:
- Cooking and preparing basic food
- Folding laundry
- Loading and unloading dishwashers
- Making their own lunch for school
- Managing an allowance
- Waking up in the morning with an alarm clock
Age 10+ Years Old
- Cooking a full meal for themselves
- Doing laundry from start to finish
- Helping their family plan a basic budget
- Mowing the lawn
- Washing a car
Need more tips on how to encourage your child’s development? At Handprints Childcare, we don’t just educate children. We prepare them with the life skills necessary to succeed. With fourteen different locations throughout greater Texas, our specialists are here for you and your family. For more information or to schedule a tour, visit us at https://handprintschildcare.com/ or call (214) 484-1018