I am often posed with the question of whether children should be involved in chores in the home.  My answer is always a resounding “Yes!” But, before I answer this question I think we should clarify the difference between jobs and chores.


Everyone loves to feel like they are part of a club, or group whether it be a book club, cooking club, sports club or church group. Children need to feel that belonging to their family (or “club”) is worth fighting for. Clubs themselves have rules to make them unique and club members have to comply to those rules to remain loyal members. Creating chores in the home, do exactly that. Here are some advantages:

  1. Children feel part of something outside of themselves
  2. They experience a sense of accomplishment when they complete the chore
  3. It fosters independence
  4. It encourages them to take responsibility and ownership

Make a list of all the chores needing attention then let the oldest one choose first, then the second oldest but make sure the oldest gets more chores/responsibilities but also more privileges. Decide together on a day/time when the chore has to be completed. Have consequences lined up and discussed before the time for chores not completed. Consequences like:

  • Privileges taken away
  • Your sibling can do it for you but then an amount is deducted from your pocket money to pay him (this is a life skill – if you do not like doing a job, you pay someone else to do it)
  • No dinner till your task is done
  • You get an extra job to do.

I believe in having a consequence of the opposite spirit, so if you are mean you practice kindness; if you are lazy, you get to work more.

Age appropriate chores:

2-3 year olds – show them how and help them to do it on their own

  • an attempt at making the bed
  • packing away safe items from the dishwasher
  • setting the table
  • clearing their own dishes from the table
  • packing away toys/books
  • help feed pets
  • dust with socks on their hands
  • pick the laundry

4-5 year olds – using a chore chart is helpful

  • dress themselves
  • make their beds (with minimal help)
  • help unpacking shopping
  • Pack away and sort toys
  • Set the table with supervision
  • Clear the table with supervision
  • Help with food preparation
  • Sort clothes for the laundry
  • Match socks
  • Be taught how to answer the phone
  • Feed the pets
  • Hang up towels in bathroom
  • Clean floors with a dry mop

6-7 year olds

  • (all of the above plus…)
  • Brush their own teeth
  • Comb their hair
  • Choose own clothing (within certain boundaries)
  • Write thank you notes
  • Not only feed pets, but extra work like cleaning cages, exercise pets
  • Vacuum individual rooms
  • Fold laundry
  • Pack away laundry
  • Totally unpack dishwasher
  • Help prepare meals
  • Empty trash cans

8-11 year olds

  • (all of the above plus…)
  • personal hygiene
  • keep their own bedrooms clean
  • do homework unassisted (except when help is asked)
  • be responsible with and for belongings
  • wake themselves up with an alarm clock
  • wash dishes
  • wash the car
  • prepare a few easy meals alone
  • clean the bathrooms
  • rake leaves
  • use washer and dryer
  • put all laundry away

12 and 13 year olds

  • (all of the above plus…)
  • Maintain personal items eg recharging batteries
  • Change bed sheets
  • Do occasional deep cleaning in bedrooms
  • Help in house with things like changing light bulbs
  • Fixing household items
  • Empty vacuum bag
  • Dust, vacuum, clean bathrooms
  • Do dishes
  • Clean mirrors
  • Mow the lawn
  • Prepare an occasional meal (pre plan grocery list)
  • Be totally responsible for homework
  • Work in the garden
  • Babysit
  • Wash windows

16-18 year olds

  • (all of the above plus…)
  • responsible to earn spending money
  • purchasing their own clothes
  • maintaining car if they have a license
  • all housework
  • garden maintenance
  • preparing family meals
  • deep cleaning of household appliances like defrosting the freezer

When chores in the home have been clarified, I think jobs need to be defined as well. Jobs are identified as extra work that they can earn money for. A list can be compiled with the value next to it. This way children can work towards earning and saving money. Chores are just part of belonging to the family and should not be for payment.

Make sure this is a family agreement and nobody is left out for any reason like, oh, he’s too little etc. Everyone contributes. Make it fun!

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