What age should kids start doing chores? The answer… as soon as possible. Here’s a small list of toddler chores and ideas to teach responsibility.
What age should kids start doing chores?
As soon as possible.
What does that mean? It means as soon as your child can walk around the house without help they can help with chores. If you need a little more convincing read on. I will talk about why kids should do chores and what kids should be expected to do.
Why should I ask my children to do help?
They are more than capable.
Before I was a parent, I was a special education teacher and before that I was a behavior tech at the Center for Autism Education (CAE). This place changed my point of view on so many featured issues. One strong component of what I learned while working at CAE was children are often smarter and more capable than we give them credit.
Early on, I was introduced to a classroom of students that were labeled non-verbal. This just basically means my students were unable to communicate very well using words or verbal cues. I could speak novels on the amazing things I’ve seen those particular children do that defied what doctors or specialists said would be the case. I soon realized at CAE we had higher expectations than that of our typically developed children in typical classrooms and ultimately the homes as well.
Even the youngest students had responsibility. Some examples being, putting backpacks away, warming up lunches for themselves, and even chores like folding towels and rinsing dishes. We are not expecting nearly enough of our typically developed kiddos, and so the thought process started: at what age should kids start doing chores? and having responsibilities?
Why Should the Children Start Doing Chores so Young?
My husband and I are what I would categorize as conscious parents. I consider any parent who thinks of their child’s future as a conscious parent. Through conscious parenting we really think hard about the decisions we make for our children going forward. Probably, we analyze a little too much, but we always make sure our reasons are to benefit the children.
The goal for us will always be to create independent, caring, and helpful human beings. Our reason is obviously to teach responsibility, but also team work. Our family is a unit and everyone has to work hard to allow the unit to function. Team work is a life skill I believe has gone by the wayside, sadly. Business, churches, schools, communities, etc. all need teamwork to work properly.
How to Teach Your Child to Complete a Chore?
When teaching toddlers to do a chore you have to take it step by step. As parents we have to explain things slowly and clearly, but most importantly we should walk them through the process. At one year old a child cannot be expected to accomplish a multi-step command, and we should not expect that little love nugget to do what we ask the first time… maybe not even the twentieth time.
Remember, when you are teaching a life lesson, it will take time and practice. Be patient.
The first chore we give our children as soon as they can walk is: Put your socks in the laundry after coming inside and taking off your shoes. In a few months she’ll be taking off her own shoes and socks and putting them both away. *If you’re a parent of one, this might seem silly, but consider this from the perspective of a mother who has many little ones all coming in the door at once. This little chore saves my sanity everyday!
The first few times we prompted our oldest, either my husband or I would guide her to do what we told her to do. If she refused to hold the socks in her hand, then we would place our hands over hers to keep them in her palms. It took less than a week for her to figure it all out. Occasionally she would become side tracked and we just gently steered her in the right direction and verbalized the command again. Would you like to know the best part? She loved doing it!
Is it Really Helpful or Will I Only be Making More Work for Myself?
Good Question. The answer is “Both.” In the beginning it will be harder work for the parent. You’ll need extra time and extra patience. This will be a time when your children will need your grace and your mercy. These are trying times. Eventually, though, you’ll see them do the chores and it will begin to feel helpful.
Why it’s worth it.
Putting in the hard work at the beginning, the very beginning, will save you from many power struggles at a later stage. We have a four year old who will get dressed, make her bed, and brush her teeth in the morning without my help, a three year old who clears the table willingly while I sit and relax after dinner, and a two year old who will find the right cabinet for the clean dishes from the dishwasher. The one year old isn’t walking yet, but I can’t wait to share these chores with him as well.
From a parent’s perspective looking into the room and watching your children work together to accomplish a big task speaks volumes. We feel accomplished and proud for building that work ethic, even though we still have times of defiance and stubborn personalities that get in the way. It’s a work in progress, but it get’s easier!
The key to teaching a child something you would like to be long lasting is consistency. This is the most difficult part for parents. During the learning phase there can be resistance and it is so easy to just do things for them, but don’t! Because though it is harder at the front, the reward is long term.
Age Appropriate Jobs
Put dirty clothes in the hamper.
Put shoes away.
Place the napkins on the table when we eat.
Push in the chairs after dinner when the floor has been swept.
Clean up a handful of toys that are lying around.
Throw trash, including dirty diapers, away.
Two-year-old: (Add to the list above)
Take dirty dishes from the table to the sink.
Help a grown up empty the dishwasher.
Clean up all of the toys.
Get up in the carseat and put straps over shoulders (waiting to be buckled)
Three-year-old: (Add to the list above)
Set the table for dinner.
Clear their plate, cup, and utensils from the table.
Make their bed.
Use a handheld vacuum the clean up a small pile of dirt.
Begin dressing on their own.
When choosing chores for your children, consider the end outcome first. Begin with the end in mind. What values are important to you, to others, and for functioning in society? There are many, so begin with one or two and build from there. The values you learned from your own parents and families are much easier to teach. You more than likely teach them without knowing you’re doing so at the time.
Most importantly, you know your child best, and maybe your one-year-old or two-year-old is not ready for some of these, or maybe your children surpass all of these and are capable of much more. Do what is best for you and your family, just be confident and consistent.