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Parents often ask me what chores are appropriate for kids from toddler to teenager as well as topics around pocket money and your expectations of what your child does around the home.

With that topic in mind I thought I would break it down into age groups what chores or household tasks can be taught from a young age all the way up to teens.

Toddlers

Although they still seem like babies, you will often be surprised at how much a toddler can handle. Not only that but most toddlers love to help.

This is the perfect time to teach them the way a home is run and allow them to help with small tasks.

Tasks that are perfect for toddlers include:

  • Packing toys away in the toy box
  • Carrying their plate to the kitchen after eating
  • Helping put the cutlery back in the drawer after it has been washed
  • Helping drop clothes into the washing machine (make sure nothing stray goes in too)
  • Pressing the buttons on the dishwasher to turn it on
  • Helping to wipe the table after a meal

So now that I have mentioned some perfect learning chores for toddlers, I want to mention that it should be done in fun and not a forced thing.

Children need to be children and if they are forced into it as youngsters it may make it very difficult to get them to comply when they are older.

The whole purpose behind doing things like this with them is to help them understand how a home works and encourages them to build skills that foster their physical and cognitive development.

Preschoolers

I think this is a great age to allow children to be in charge of some small tasks around the home and encourage them to take ownership of these things.

Perfect chores for preschoolers can include:

  • Making their bed (or at least pulling up the covers and making it neat)
  • Putting their plates and cups in the sink after eating
  • Putting away their toys at the end of the day
  • Helping you put away clean dishes after washing
  • Helping set the table and/or clean up before and after a meal
  • Putting their dirty clothes in the laundry basket

School age children

Children of this age are getting to be quite autonomous and are able to do most things.

Having a chore chart is perfect for this age as they can see what tasks they need do and can also have a sense of satisfaction of what they do to contribute to the family.

School children should be able to:

  • Pack/unpack the dishwasher
  • Put their clothes into the laundry when they need washing
  • Put away their clean clothes
  • Set the table for dinner/clean up after dinner
  • Keep their rooms tidy
  • Help prepare dinner
  • Pack their own school lunches

Now obviously there are many, many chores that children can do around the home to help out and this will vary greatly from family to family according to their own needs.

I happen to be one of those people who like children to enjoy being children so I don’t personally want my kids doing chore after chore.

I think kids should help out as the normal running of a home but not have a chore list so long that they don’t get time to play and relax.

Now moving onto the topic of pocket money. Before I had children I always assumed that I would give my children chores and pay them.

That is, until I went to a leadership seminar where I heard John Maxwell speak. He talked about kids and chores and he said something that has always stayed with me. He said that children should do chores and should be expected to do chores but he was against paying them to do it.

His philosophy was that the children are a part of the household too, so everyone should do their share. He said that when it came to pocket money, we should pay our children for doing things that we deem as important. For him it was reading. He explained how reading could change a child’s life through what they learned. This really stuck with me. I, myself am an avid reader. Half of what I know probably came through reading books and I want to instil this into my children too. I then decided that I would also pay my children to read books.

As a parent you can do what you feel works best for your family and if you want to pay your children for doing tasks around the home that is fine too. My whole goal in this was just to give you another perspective on what pocket money can mean for your child.

So what do you think? Has this article changed your thoughts at all?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
  • We don’t really give pocket money. The kids are expected to do their normal chores (dishes, bedrooms). If they want to go to the movies and things (teenagers) we’ll then give money but it’s not a weekly thing. They tend to save money they receive as gifts to buy things they want and are now looking into getting jobs.

    Reply

  • I understand and appreciate the article but we agreed to pay our son for certain chores. It was motiviational and helpful in teaching responsibility.

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  • I will give pocket money for extra chores but not the everyday expected ones

    Reply

  • My boys would get paid for doing things like raking the yard, bringing in the clothes off the line, sweeping the floors etc. but they never got paid for cleaning their rooms or doing homework. It just meant they would be able to buy something they wanted if they saved for it. This way they knew not to ask for something they wanted. It became more precious to them if they bought it themselves.

    Reply

  • My children were expected to do their bit around the house but they did get pocket money so they could save up for what they wanted to buy. I guess I did things in reverse – if they didn’t pull their weight with chores around the house then they got less pocket money than their siblings. This made sure that they stuck to doing things – gardening, weeding, filling the dishwasher, emptying the dishwasher and putting the crockery away and keeping their rooms clean and tidy.

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  • I’m not sure that I agree. Giving money for things that are important like reading… Reading books is a joy not something that you should be paid to do. I think children should be paid for occasional jobs such as washing the car or mowing the lawn. I do agree that they shouldn’t be paid for daily chores like washing dishes etc.

    Reply

  • my kids have always had chores and i don’t give pocket money but I do give them money for movies, lunches or dinners or shopping trips with friends

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  • Great read, my 2 have always helped around whenever asked, they are both in primary school and both love helping cooking

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  • This is a great article. My little one loves helping out around the house so we try and encourage it as much as possible without making it seem like its work!

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  • Great article :)

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  • We don’t have ‘jobs’ and never have had… My kids are all teens/young adults now and the rule is we all live in this house so we all clean up our own mess and chip in on the bigger jobs. Yard day is fun… Everyone does their bit and we spend time together as a family…

    Reply

  • My 3yo daughter loves to help…until it comes to cleaning up toys haha she will do anything but that. I don’t mind though. I can only hope it keeps up!

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  • Start early, start simple. My preschooler loves helping and I think it is good for him even if I have to do the job again after he is finished! Practice make perfect and if he never gets to practice he will never learn. They will often surprise you with what they are capable of if you give them the chance to show you.

    Reply

  • We don’t pay our kids to do household chores – they are a member of the family and have to act as such by being responsible for household chores just like every other member of the family. Great article.

    Reply

  • This argument doesn’t have a one size fits all answer.

    Reply

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