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Tanya A. Cunningham
CENTURY 21 New Millennium

How to Choose Age-Appropriate Chores for Your Kids

Completing chores teaches children responsibility and makes them feel like they’re important contributors to the family. Parents sometimes don’t ask their kids to help out because they think they’re too young, but children deserve more credit. Kids are often capable of much more than adults think they are.

When and How to Teach Kids to Do Chores
Start having your children complete chores when they’re toddlers. The earlier they learn that they’re expected to help out at home, the easier it’ll be to get them on board. A child who’s expected to pitch in at a very young age will think it’s completely normal and be less likely to resist doing chores later.

Explain and demonstrate what you want your child to do. Make instructions as specific as possible. Then let the child try the task while you supervise and offer guidance. Don’t expect it to be done perfectly the first few times. The goal should be to teach your child to contribute and to clearly communicate your expectations. Praise the child for each step that’s done correctly. With time and practice, your child will become more skilled and confident.

If a child is assigned a chore, make it clear when you expect it to be done. Don’t provide too many reminders, because that’ll feel like micromanaging to your child. On the other hand, you shouldn’t allow a child to put off doing a chore and then throw up your hands in frustration and do it yourself. Set clear expectations, and give your child the chance to get it done.

What Types of Chores Can Your Kids Do?
A preschooler can handle chores that have one or two steps, such as placing dirty clothes in a hamper, putting away toys or feeding a pet. Kids who are a little older can learn to make a bed, wash plastic dishes, help clear the table after meals and water plants. A first or second grader can help set the table, sweep the floor, sort laundry, and clean up his or her bedroom. A child a bit older can help by vacuuming, loading the dishwasher, putting away laundry, mopping the floor and helping with meal preparation. A child 10 or older can be responsible for washing and folding laundry, cleaning the bathroom and kitchen, and changing sheets.

Teach Your Kids to Pitch in
Chores can help kids learn responsibility and make them feel like they’re valued members of the family. The earlier you start assigning your children chores, the better. Don’t assume that your kids are incapable of doing things. They may be able to do a lot more than you think if you provide clear instructions, demonstrations and praise. Choose age-appropriate chores for your kids, and let them gradually take on more responsibility as they get older.