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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.

Let Your Kids Be Kids

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.

What About Paying Kids To Do Chores?

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
  • when my son was younger he did little jobs like put his toys away. now that he’s older, he puts the washing away, puts the dishes away. etc.

    Reply

  • My 3 and 5 yo loves helping setting up table and doing things in the garden…also some cleaning but not always

    Reply

  • I get my kids to do a lot of those and I do pay them, but they need to actually do it. They also have a rewards chart. I think it’s important that they get the idea of earning and saving money.

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  • I don’t like the idea of paying kids for doing task around the house. It will make them expect money for every thing they are doing.

    Reply

  • I grew up having to do chores set by my parents and there was no such thing as pocket money (not enough $$ for them to spare). I believe kids should be helping, without getting paid for it.

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  • I missed the boat. We paid our son for chores but it hasn’t translated into him doing chores as a young adult.

    Reply

  • My sons are 2.5 and starting to help with little things like putting rubbish in the bin and getting me things. They will not pack their toys up though ugh.

    Reply

  • My children have always been taught to help out. When they were old enough, I implemented the routine that when you were finished playing with something you packed it up before getting the next thing out. I am guilty however, of creating a jobs chart when they got older that helped them earn some pocket money. I believed it would help them to learn that if they wanted something they had to work for it. They had set jobs that were expected to be done every day but then they could earn extra money for doing extra jobs. It was never a lot of money, for example, folding a load of washing or unpacking the dishwasher got them 10 cents & vacuuming scored them 20 cents. It might seem like a ridiculously small amount of money but it was started 15 years ago & by the end of the week it really did add up. It worked perfectly right up until they got their first jobs & then the chart lost all its power :)

    Reply

  • I totally think its important to get kids to do chores around the house, both paid and unpaid. I think that as a family we all need to help around the house.

    My 11 year old daughter is in charge of folding and putting away her and her younger brothers laundry. She unpacks the dishwasher, makes her own school lunch each day to mention a few.
    My 5 year old son also helps putting away the laundry, helps outside in the garden. He’s still at an age where he just LOVE’s helping me around the house.

    My daughter has a Spriggy card which is a great way for her to earn money for doing jobs around the house.

    Reply

  • Definitely think it’s important for kids to have chores/jobs around the house.

    Reply

  • I’m about to start a reward chart for my eldest son. I plan on having 3 things on it that he has to do everyday and he will get a sticker for each one he does. If he does his 3 tasks everyday for the whole week then I will reward him with something small. I’m doing this because his reaction to being asked to pick up his toys is frustrating and kinda hilarious. He needs to learn that he has to clean up after himself and its everyone’s job to keep the house clean and tidy. One of his tasks he already does and loves doing it, the second one he does maybe 70% of the time and the third he throws little tantrums about. Im hoping the stickers and little reward will stop the tantrums.


    • Yes I did reward chart with one of my kids too, it didn’t work very well though. But each child is different ! Hope it works with your child :)

    Reply

  • These are all really great ideas that I will definitely be trying. Although, it is so hard to turn in into something fun and not a chore so they actually participate and do as they are asked to do.

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  • Great ideas!

    Reply

  • Another way I use doing chores is as community services. My 11yr old has Kleptomania and when she steals something and can’t pay back, she’ll have to work for it. We have stopped giving her pocket money as she owes us thousands of dollars. Normally you would expect her to pay back when she steals something, but when she can’t because she doesn’t have any money then she’ll have to do community services. At school they’ve now implemented the same rule, which I found good as it also mirrows society. As when you get fined and can’t pay you may get imprisoned or have to do community services.

    Reply

  • We don’t pay for chores, as doing chores is part of life and is a matter of developing life skills and taking responsibility. However my teenagers often make deals with my husband; he buys them something and they do extra chores (things they usually don’t do).
    The other day I did the same. My son (15yr old) ran out of pocket money to buy food for his mice. I bought it for him whilst he had to do an afternoon of weeding for me in the garden.


    • Thinking back I had as a kid far more responsibilities than my kids have. It was daily doing the dishes, drying them and tidying them away, clean the counters and cupboards, hanging the wash out in the garden, getting the wash of the line and folding the wash, helping in the garden, helping my mum scrub the carpet (by hand), helping with cooking & baking, besides of course keeping our rooms tidy.
      We could earn some extra for washing the car or cleaning out the garage.

    Reply

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