Although it may seem easier to do wash the dishes and fold the clothes yourself, family counselor Michael Gurian says chores and household tasks help children develop character. Giving children responsibility around the house also shows your children they are part of a family and that helping with daily tasks improves the life of those living in the home.
Don’t wait until your children are teens to give them chores. Kids as young as two or three years old can help around the house.
Having a hard time coming up with chore ideas? Let’s look at six chores suited for various ages.
- Dust it up. One of my youngest daughter’s favorite chores has always been running the dust buster. It’s an electronic. It makes noise. Stuff magically disappears. And it’s fun! When she was younger (two or three) I would sweep dirt into piles around the house, and then I would show her the piles and she would use the dustbuster to suck them up. Now that she’s older she can complete both tasks.
- Pack a lunch. By the age of five, making a lunch could be part of a regular chore routine says Vicki Hoefle. Your child at this age could make, with some assistance, a simple sandwich like PB&J or lunchmeat and cheese. You can package up items like fruits and veggies, and the night before your child could gather their items together in the refrigerator so they could put them in their boxes the next morning.
- Get items ready for school. When my kids don’t pick out their clothes and pack their bags the night before school, the morning begins in a crazy rush. This self-help skill teaches children the importance of being organized and prepared, and it promotes a calm start to each morning.
- Establish dinner duty. By the time your child is seven, he or she can help assist with menu planning and cooking dinner one night each week. Each of my girls pick a meal they want to make. We menu plan for that meal and then on their dinner night they assist with cooking dinner. Now, at the age of ten, my daughter knows how to make Parmesan chicken; the last time she did it all on her own! Denene Miller’s twelve-year-old cooks dinner for the family one time each week, which, Miller says teaches skills in self-reliance.
- Mow the lawn or complete yard work. Between cutting, edging, weeding, planting, watering and trimming, yard work can take up an entire weekend. Get the kids involved. Younger kids can assist with planting, watering and weeding. Our thirteen-year-old neighbor has taken on a side business of cutting yards for cash. Not only has he learned to do this chore at home, but also now he can use it to make extra spending money.
It’s important as parents that we give up the idea that we have to ‘do it all’. Miller reminds us that expecting our children to help around the house is not unfair; instead it teaches our children to be self-reliant, responsible and organized.
What chores do your children do around the house?