Age Appropriate Chores: The Ultimate Guide [With Free Printable Chore Charts]

age appropriate chores for kids

Most parents start to wonder about age-appropriate chores somewhere into the toddler years as two things are happening:

  1. Your now mobile munchkins are growing an insatiable desire to explore new skills and prove their independence
  2. You are growing an insatiable desire to see your home regaining some vague resemblance to its pre-baby-bomb days.

The good news is, with the right approach to age-appropriate chores, you can find a win-win, family-friendly route to satisfying both of those desires (with a little compromise thrown in, of course).

Just take a minute to imagine a world where shoes actually live in the cupboard, and your kids occasionally offer to wash the car. (Come on, we can dream big, people!).

But before we get to that wondrous dream scenario, we’ve got questions to answer. Like, should 3-year-olds be asked to do chores, and should we be paying our tweens to unpack the dishwasher, and how on earth do you actually motivate a 6-year-old to tidy up his room?

So here it is, fellow wonderers – your ultimate guide to age-appropriate chores for kids of all ages (with free printable kids chore charts and family chore list!). It’s time to answer all those nagging questions you’ve been trying to detangle while single-handedly untangling your fifth basket of laundry for the week.

parent buried in laundry


Should kids do chores? 

A survey by the designers of the chore app BusyKid found that only 55% of parents surveyed had their kids doing chores, even though 90% of them said they had benefited from chores growing up. Apparently, just because most of us did chores as kids, it doesn’t mean we’re automatically on board with the whole idea.

And that’s a good thing—parenting decisions shouldn’t purely be based on what we got handed to us as kids. Part of being a good parent is thinking things through and knowing at least some good reasons for the things we do (and not just because our 4-year-old is going to ask “Why?” a million times).

So first of all, what are the reasons parents may have for not having their kids do chores? The survey mentioned doesn’t go into specific reasons, but I’ll venture a few.

1. Parents may see chores as an unfair burden.

Some parents may feel that managing and running the household is the adults’ responsibility. In other words, ‘let kids be kids’ and enjoy their childhood without the ‘burden’ of chores.

2. Parents feel their kids are too busy to add chores to their to-do list.

A 2018 survey reported that American children between 3–12 years old participate in 5 structured after-school activities per week, on average. Many schools (and parents) are keeping kids’ lives so busy outside the home that there simply doesn’t seem to be time left for chores.

3. Parents are too busy to delegate & manage a chore system.

It’s a fact that teaching and monitoring kids to do chores can sometimes take more time and effort than doing the chores ourselves—at least in the beginning. Many parents may simply struggle to find the time to figure out a good chore system and put it in place. And many busy families rely on hired domestic help, which leaves less need and opportunity for kids to take on these responsibilities.

If you fall into either of these three camps, I encourage you to carefully consider all the benefits of chores for kids, parents, and families outlined below, before deciding that chores are a burden, or allowing circumstances to dictate your decision.

exhausted busy mom lying on couch with cleaning cloth in hand

 

6 Important benefits of age appropriate chores for kids, parents & families

Having kids get involved in doing age-appropriate chores not only helps them learn and practice important skills they’ll need in life (which we’ll look at in more detail further below). Done in the right way, a well-functioning family chore system can have many wider positive impacts on your family relationships and the home environment.

1. Helps create a smoother running home

As the saying goes, many hands make light work. And as we know, many little hands make plenty of messes! The more of those little hands get involved in cleaning up and managing the mess, the easier it becomes to reign in the chaos. Divvying up chores is about getting the whole family on the same page to create a smoother-running household. Sure, it’s going to take a while to get your kids fully onboard, but if you keep at it, you’ll see the dynamic of your home changing as everyone takes some responsibility for keeping the ship on track.

2. Reduces family stress

Stress happens when you feel like you don’t have enough resources to carry the load. Running a household is a huge load that no parent should have to bear alone. Letting your kids take on age-appropriate chores not only lessens your load, but gives your family the opportunity to support you in very practical and helpful ways. Of course, younger kids shouldn’t be expected to carry the same load as older kids or adults (age-appropriate chores being the keyword!). But when the burden is shared, it’s no longer a heavy burden.

3. Frees up more time (and energy!) to spend with your kids

So many of us parents feel guilty because we wish we had more time and energy for our kids. And so much of our time and energy is taken up with mundane household activities. Doing some of our chores together with our kids not only increases the time we’re actively spending together, but also frees up more time for the fun stuff. (This is also a great way to motivate our kids to help out!).

age appropriate chores - mom and young daughter cleaning together

4. Keeps kids occupied & nurtures their need for structure

Maybe your kids don’t fall into the ‘5 structured activities per week’ category. Maybe they’re constantly complaining they’re bored or getting up to nonsense when your back is turned. Chores are a great way to create the routine that kids (especially younger ones) crave. And it gives them something useful to do with those busy little hands and bodies. The younger they are, the more fun they’re likely to find in doing chores!

5. Prepares kids for future life with housemates

No one likes living with lazy. Let’s not forget that by raising a child who knows how to take their share of responsibility for the household, you’re doing their future potential roommates, spouse and family a huge favour (one they’re sure to thank you for!)

6. Helps your child understand their role in the family, and the world

Having a ‘job’ to do gives a child a sense of purpose, just like it does for adults. Letting them know that they’re making a meaningful contribution to the family by doing chores helps them start internalizing the idea that they’re not the centre of the universe, but rather an individual with an important contribution to make. Want to avoid raising entitled kids? This is one of the best ways! Instead of letting them grow up with the idea that the world owes them something, they’re learning that everyone has something to give.

age appropriate chores - two girl siblings washing dishes together

What do kids actually learn from doing age appropriate chores? 

Apart from the wonderful benefits to your household, your child’s future family and the world in general, doing chores has very important benefits for your child’s own growth and development, helping transform them into Awesome Humans (which is our ultimate goal as parents, right?). Here are a few of the ways doing chores can achieve that:

1. Helps them master physical, cognitive and practical skills

At first, when kids are small, doing chores helps them develop important physical and cognitive abilities, from the fine motor skills they’ll need to pick up those tiny bits of paper off the floor, to the mental challenge of sorting toys into different containers or remembering where shoes are supposed to go. And of course, from a practical standpoint, they’re learning how to do the daily practical tasks involved in caring for themselves, looking after a family and running a home.

2. Develops their confidence and self-esteem

From as young as age 2 or 3, kids can begin to internalise a sense of responsibility for getting their chores done. That, along with mastering new skills on a daily, weekly or monthly basis as they take on new tasks will nurture your little one’s growing sense of independence and boost their self-confidence.

3. Fosters important life skills

As kids get a little older, taking more responsibility for completing their daily and weekly chores helps them learn valuable life skills like time management, setting priorities, creative problem-solving, negotiating, and the intrinsic rewards of following through on a goal or commitment.

4. Teaches them the value of good habits

Habits are what make up the majority of our daily life, for better or worse. Doing chores from a young age not only helps kids get into specific good habits like picking up their clothes or clearing their dirty dishes, but also helps them internalise the mechanics of forming good habits. For example, having to do their chores before they get to play or visit friends gives them consistent practice in delaying gratification, which is essential to developing healthy habits and behaviours in general.

5. Teaches them respect for others

If your child never participates in the work of running a household that goes on behind the scenes (or perhaps more aptly, behind the screens), they will take all those efforts for granted. The more they learn about and take on responsibility for many of the different tasks that the home and family needs to survive, the more they’ll come to respect and appreciate the hard work that everyone does (even if they’re still only aware of a fraction of the monumental task that is good parenting!).

age appropriate chores - father and son cleaning mirror

6. Helps them develop a good work ethic for life

A well-known Harvard Study of Adult Development, which has followed the life trajectories of 724 men since 1938, found a very clear connection between doing chores from a young age, and achieving professional success as an adult.

Those results were also confirmed by a more recent 20-year study by Professor Marty Rossman published by the University of Minnesota, which found that “the best predictor of young adults’ success in their mid-20s was that they participated in household tasks when they were three or four.”

So what is it about doing chores that seems to guarantee a good chance of success in life?

The Harvard study drew the major conclusion that doing chores as a child developed a good work ethic, which turned out to be the second largest predictor of happiness and success in later life. (The first predictor was being in close, loving relationships—so we can certainly help keep that one ticked, too!).

At what age should kids start doing chores?

toddler girl with dustpan and brush

The study by Rossman mentioned above emphasizes two important things:

  • The lifelong lessons from doing chores are best learned from a very young age (successful young adults in their mid-20s typically did chores from age 3 or 4)
  • The earlier children get involved in chores, the easier it is to keep them involved as they get older.

You might be skeptical about starting your 3-year-old on a chore system. After all, hasn’t she got enough going on with figuring out the inner workings of language and bladder control?

Well, you certainly don’t need to worry yourself about throwing your tantrum-throwing toddler into any kind of serious ‘chore regime’—she’s certainly not ready to sign up for 3 new jobs a day, completed promptly by dinnertime.

The idea is to start laying the foundations, start making the concept of ‘helping out’ part of daily life in a fun, natural way, from as early as possible. That way, the natural lessons learned from chores will start seeping into your child’s brain while it’s still at maximum ‘sponge’ capacity. And you’ll have far fewer fights about any perceived ‘chore regimes’ later on—the science says so!

The built-in advantage of starting chores early on

Another major advantage of starting chores from very young is that toddlers are naturally wired to want to ‘put their big boy pants on’ by helping out, and mimicking mom and dad’s day-to-day tasks. More than anything, they want to impress you with what they can do with their newfound skills and independence. In other words, it’s not really going to be a chore to get your 2-year-old to help wipe down the table—he’s already gunning to get his little hands on that sponge and spray bottle and show mom what he can do!

Your mission—should you accept it—is to jump on this particular gravy train while it’s got plenty of steam, and direct it to the nearest station. In other words, starting kids on age-appropriate chores is the easiest and most effective way to get them invested from early on, so they can reap all the awesome benefits along the way, and especially later on.

 

Eek.. am I too late to start my kids doing chores?

Young girl with arms crossed defiantly

So, what if your kids are already a little older, and you’ve never quite been able to get the chore championships underway?

Don’t give up the whole game just because you missed the warm-up.

Depending on how long you’ve waited, you may experience a little or a lot of resistance in trying to introduce new behaviours and habits with your kids. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done, or that it isn’t worth the extra effort.

If you’re starting as late as the tween or teenage years, you may need to go big on the rewards system, motivating your kids with extra privileges or financial rewards (more on the pros and cons of giving allowance for chores below).

But if your kids are still in kindergarten or elementary school, it probably won’t be too difficult introducing chores. After all, they’re constantly being asked to do and learn new things at school, and they’re generally eager to please.

Speaking from personal experience, we never made chores an ‘official’ thing for my daughter until she was 5 years old. At that age, she was all about making lists and charts. Having been in preschool for a few years, the highlight of any school day was earning stars for good behavior which eventually added up to choosing something from the teacher’s treat box. So, we simply latched onto those existing motivations—making a chore list together and being able to earn small rewards was enough to start building the chore habit.

Whatever age you start with chores, remember to keep realistic expectations, sticking to age-appropriate chores, and giving your kids the time and space they need to start mastering new skills and responsibilities.

 

APPROPRIATE CHORES BY AGE GROUP

The most important key to starting an effective chore system and avoiding frustration for you and your kids is having realistic expectations for where they’re at developmentally. This age-by-age chore guide is nothing more than that—a guide. Not a script.

We know that all kids develop at their own unique pace. Only you will know what they can handle—and if you don’t, you’ll soon figure it out! If your child is really struggling and getting frustrated with a particular task, don’t force it.

By the same token, don’t assume your child can’t do something because it’s not on the list for their age. If your child shows interest and wants to try something, try to turn off your inner control freak and let them have a go—they might just surprise you (and if not, well, there’s another opportunity for them to practice cleaning up their mess!).

Chores for toddlers

The toddler stage, particularly between ages 2 and 3, is the best time to start encouraging your child in helping with various household tasks. At the start, you don’t need to introduce chores as a set responsibility, or even call them ‘chores.’

Your goal should be to encourage and guide your child’s natural desires to explore and understand the world around them. You can do this by giving them opportunities to try out some of the tasks that mom or dad (or their older siblings) do on a daily basis, under your supportive (yet not overly interfering) watch.

age appropriate chores - toddler helping mom sort laundry

Age Appropriate Chores for 2 year olds

2-year-olds live very much in the present moment, and are all about physical and sensory experiences. Basically, they’ll want to do things as long as it stimulates them in some positive way. At the same time, they’re gradually becoming more aware of and interested in the world around them. Mainly, they want to discover how things work and what they do.

It’s also sometime during this year that language usually starts to take off. Even if your child isn’t very verbal yet, they will most likely be able to understand and follow simple instructions.

  • Chores at this stage should follow your child’s natural inclinations to understand and interact with their physical world.
  • Focus on giving them safe, simple tasks involving no more than 1 or 2 steps.

Don’t expect a thorough or perfect job, of course—this is just a training ground (and yes, you’re still going to have to re-hang the washing!)

age appropriate chores - toddler investigating dishwasher

Realistic chores for 2-year-olds include:

  • Packing away toys after play time
  • Putting dirty clothes in the hamper
  • Helping you make the bed
  • Helping you hang up the washing
  • Helping sort the laundry (toddlers are big on pointing out what belongs to whom)
  • Wiping up spills
  • Carrying their dirty plate to the sink
  • Dusting surfaces with a duster or a sock on their hand
  • Putting away or piling up books and magazines
  • Helping vacuum or sweep up dirt with the dustpan and brush
  • Unloading plastic items from the dishwasher (with supervision)

Age Appropriate Chores for 3 year olds

Age 3 is a very pivotal year in a child’s development. Up to now things were sort of just happening to them, but at this point, a new sense of consciousness about the world around them and their role in it is starting to emerge.

Your 3-year-old is starting to see herself as an empowered person who can make things happen, and her drive for independence is strong. She’s also very invested in the ‘why’ behind stuff. At the same time, she’s communicating better, has a longer attention span and better focus.

All of this makes age 3 the golden age for introducing chores! Your child will feel empowered as you ask her to do things for you, and allow her to stretch her growing desire for autonomy.

  • Allow your child to take on any tasks they can safely do on their own, and make space for them to master those skills, without interfering.
  • Explain the purpose behind tasks and answer your child’s questions – this will go a long way in getting them interested and keeping them focused.

age appropriate chores - toddler boy vacuuming

Your 3-year old can get involved in any of the above chores for 2-year-olds (with less supervision), plus any of the following:

  • Filling a pet’s food dish
  • Watering plants
  • Washing fruit and veggies
  • Emptying wastebaskets
  • Helping carry in light & non-breakable groceries from the car
  • Pulling weeds (if you have a garden)

Age Appropriate Chores for 4 year olds

At age 4, your child’s confidence is blossoming, and they’re all about showing how capable they are. They’re also becoming a lot more social, and their curiosity about the world is becoming very verbal (why? why? why?).

  • Involve your 4-year old in coming up with a chore list or making a chore chart – making this a social activity that you do together will get your child interested.
  • Give your child a say about which chores they’d like to do and how – kids this age respond well when we give them choices.

age appropriate chores - young girl mopping floor

4-year olds should be able to handle any of the above chores, plus:

  • Tidying their bedroom
  • Making their bed with a bit of help
  • Setting out clothes for the next day
  • Setting the table
  • Wiping down the table after meals
  • Washing plastic dishes at the sink
  • Unloading the dishwasher with supervision
  • Sorting out recyclables
  • Sweeping and mopping small areas
  • Bringing in the mail or newspaper
  • Bringing their things in from the car

Age Appropriate Chores for 5 year olds 

5-year olds are really growing into their independence and doing lots of ‘big kid’ things like brushing their own teeth and dressing themselves. Their language and comprehension abilities are taking off, they’re absorbing information like a sponge, and they’re able to follow and recall more detailed instructions involving up to three steps. You’ll probably also find that they’re very into the ‘rules’ (which you can use to your advantage!). Physically, they’re becoming a lot better coordinated and refined in their movements.

  • Have your 5-year-old help you with drawing up the chore list or chore chart and assigning tasks to different family members.
  • Give them a choice of which daily and weekly chores they’re going to be responsible for.
  • If there’s a younger sibling, ask your 5-year-old to help show their brother or sister how to do a few of the simpler chores they’ve already mastered.

siblings feeding cat

5 year-olds are ready to tackle any of the above chores, plus:

  • Fixing a bowl of cereal
  • Pairing and folding socks
  • Sorting laundry into piles
  • Putting clothes away in drawers or shelves
  • Feeding and watering pets
  • Making their bed without supervision
  • Setting & clearing the table
  • Packing & unpacking their backpack

Age Appropriate Chores for 6 year olds 

6-year-olds have matured in their basic cognitive abilities and are learning faster than ever. They’re able to understand more complex ideas like cause and effect, and can distinguish between past, present and future. Physically, they’re always on the move, exploring new skills, and their fine motor skills have matured. They’re also making more meaningful friendships, learning about empathy and growing in their ability to understand other people’s feelings.

  • Engage with your 6-year-old to see which new chores would be a fun challenge to tackle on their own
  • Talk to them about how specific chores will help other family members (or the family as a whole), and why chores are an important part of growing up and learning new things.

child raking leaves

6-year-olds should be capable of doing any of the above chores, plus:

  • Vacuuming their room (or other rooms)
  • Sorting, folding & delivering laundry to different rooms
  • Sweeping larger areas
  • Helping make and pack their lunchbox
  • Weeding and raking leaves
  • Unpacking the dishwasher without supervision
  • Cleaning mirrors

Age Appropriate Chores for 7-8 year-olds

For many parents, age 7 to 8 is the ‘sweet spot’ of parenting—your child is growing into a new place of independence and blossoming social skills, but still quite happy spending time with you (enjoy it while it lasts!). By now, they’re quite skilled at articulating their thoughts and feelings, and you can have more thoughtful, mature conversations with them. They’ve also got a good grasp of time concepts by this point.

young girl taking out trash bin_age appropriate chores

7 and 8 year olds can generally handle any of the above chores, plus:

  • Loading the dishwasher
  • Putting away groceries
  • Making their own breakfast & simple snacks
  • Helping make dinner
  • Running a bath
  • Hanging up the washing
  • Putting clothes away in cupboards
  • Peeling vegetables
  • Mopping the floor
  • Cleaning the bathroom
  • Taking the pet for a walk
  • Taking out the garbage
  • Putting the bins out on collection day
  • Washing the car with supervision

Chores for Tweens (Ages 9-12)

While your tweenager is probably going to be more distracted than ever by what’s going on in their growing social sphere, home is still their safe space. As your tween is growing in their sense of justice and becoming truly passionate about things that matter to them, chores may not seem like the most important thing in their universe. But chores can still form an important part of establishing their burgeoning independence as you hand them greater responsibility in the household.

boy making a meal

Tweens can be expected to do any of the above chores, plus:

  • Washing windows
  • Cooking simple meal with supervision
  • Ironing clothes with supervision
  • Mowing the lawn with supervision
  • Baby-sitting younger siblings (with adult in the home)
  • Cleaning the kitchen
  • Changing their bed sheets
  • Washing the car without supervision
  • Cleaning the pool

Chores for Teenagers

Teenagers can be expected to start taking on many of the chores you do as an adult.  Adolescence is a transition period from childhood to adulthood, and learning to handle more responsibilities around the home is an important part of the preparation for them leaving the nest before too long. Even though they’re becoming more capable, don’t neglect the fact that you may still need to teach and model clearly with certain tasks, particularly any involving safety risks (just ignore the eye rolls and sighs of ‘I know, mom’).

Teen girl grocery shopping

Teens should obviously be fine to handle any of the tasks for younger kids, plus any of the following:

  • Doing the laundry
  • Cooking a meal on their own
  • Ironing clothes
  • Mowing the lawn or other yard work
  • Defrosting and cleaning out the fridge or freezer
  • Writing grocery lists
  • Buying and wrapping gifts
  • Running errands (by foot, or with the car once they have their license)

The Tricky Question: Should kids get paid for chores? 

toddler with hand out questioningly

You want to motivate your kids to do their chores well, especially as they get older. But is paying them the best way to do this? The question of whether to pay kids for chores is not such a simple one–it clearly has many parents and experts divided.

Ultimately, it’s a decision you need to make for your own family, and the important thing is to think it through so you know your reasons, and have a clear strategy. Of course, you can always change your game plan along the way if it’s not quite working the way you hoped—parenting is always a learning journey!

To help you weigh up the decision, let’s take a look at some of the arguments offered by parents and experts around the web. After that we’ll discuss some alternative reward strategies you might want to consider.

Arguments for paying kids for chores:

1. Attaches concrete value to hard work

Many parents swear by the strategy of monetary reward for chores because it teaches kids the value of hard work, by attaching a real, concrete reward to doing that work. At the end of the week or the month, the child can hold their ‘pay check’ in their hand and say to themselves, ‘look, that’s what happens when I do my work well. Now I’ll get to spend this on something I’ll enjoy’.  In this sense, chores are seen as a parallel to doing a job in the real world. Do your job—get rewarded. (The problem with this is you can’t fire or replace your little ‘employees’ if they’re constantly slacking off!)

2. Teaches kids responsibility through the law of sowing and reaping

As an extension of the above point, attaching pay to doing chores is a very concrete way of teaching kids the law of cause and effect, or sowing and reaping. As parents, we can often struggle with setting clear boundaries or allowing our kids to experience the natural consequences of their actions. We’re only human, and often our words and actions can give mixed messages, or be a little ‘wishy washy’ at best.

By setting up a clear system with chores and pay that we’ve both agreed to, it takes our mood and feelings out of the picture, and lets our kids experience the consequences of following through, or not, on their commitments—which ultimately helps them internalise a sense of responsibility.  (The only catch is that we must be prepared to follow through and stomach our kids’ disappointment when some or all of the ‘pay check’ needs to be withheld).

3. Encourages money management skills

By paying kids for doing chores, you’re instilling a system that gives them the opportunity to learn about earning, managing, saving and spending money. And all experts will agree that, the earlier you can start teaching your kids financial literacy, the better. If they can learn good habits from an early age, those habits are likely to stick with them through life. Of course, you could simply give your kids an allowance, but it would take the ‘earning’ principle out of the equation (unless you set up different requirements, other than chores, for earning their allowance.) Bear in mind that it’s possible your child may some day decide that money isn’t enough of a motivator for continuing to do their chores (see point  4 below), in which case they would forfeit the opportunity to learn good money skills.

little girl excited about earnings and savings jar

 

Arguments against paying kids for chores:


1. Can create a sense of entitlement

Many parents argue that paying kids for chores can create a sense of entitlement because it sends the message that anything you do for the family or for others deserves some kind of payment. Instead of ‘how can I help?’ the focus can quickly become ‘what do I get out of this?’ If we continually reward our kids for helping out, they may get so conditioned to this that they refuse to do other expected behaviours if there’s no external reward. And they may be in for a shock later on when no one pays them for washing their own dishes or picking up their clothes!

2. Can undermine a sense of family, collaboration and community

In non-western cultures which have a more communal mindset, helping with daily chores around in the home is not an optional extra kids are rewarded for—it’s a necessary and normal part of life as a family. By paying kids for chores, parents might create the perception that helping out is some kind of special behaviour, rather than something family members do out of love and support for one another.

3. Can teach kids to rely on external rather than internal motivation

While money may be a good motivator, is it the main motivation you want your kids to have for doing good work? If parents put all the focus on external motivation for good behaviour, children may not learn the importance, or have the opportunity of developing internal motivation. It’s true that for many adults, doing a good job on a particular task (or even simply getting the job done on time) can often come down to a mix of both external and internal motivations. But if you want your kids to develop a good work ethic that will see them through the highs and lows of life, you need to make sure you’re helping your kids develop internal motivation rather than relying solely on external rewards.

4. Your child might choose their time over your money

One of the problems with the paid chore system is that for kids—especially younger ones—motivations and preferences are always chopping and changing, and money may not always be the most alluring thing in the moment.  What if they decide that it’s much more important to them right now to play on the tablet, or play with the dog, than do some cleaning? If they stop caring about the reward system, it may be very hard to find a new way to motivate them.

lazy girl lying on couch

So what’s the verdict?

Anyone else feel like they’re back in 9th grade debating class? The pay for chores question is definitely a complicated one. At the end of the day, it probably won’t come down to a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. That’s because none of the above arguments are iron-clad or applicable to every child. Even the best reward system can backfire. And even the most helpful, family-oriented kids will probably resist doing chores at least some of the time if there’s no clear external motivation. The important thing to remember is that no system is perfect. But ultimately, the research shows that kids will benefit from doing chores, whether they receive pay for them or not.

 

Alternatives to paying kids for chores

If you’re feeling unsure about how to motivate your kids without the pitfalls of pay for chores, here are a couple of ‘hybrid’ solutions you might want to consider:

The token system

A lot of families end up employing some version a reward system for chores, which may or may not involve actual money. (And if you’re starting chores at the age of 2 or 3, your child may still be too young to appreciate money or what to do with it). One effective alternative is to use a token system, giving your kids some form of voucher or token for doing chores, which can later be exchanged for rewards or privileges such as time on electronics, going out with friends, or choosing a fun activity to do on the weekend. This is also a good way of helping your child internalize the idea of ‘work first, then play’.

I have been using the token system with our young kids, with an idea I pinched off Pinterest. I pay them with Monopoly money for various chores (the different colored notes are a big help), and at the end of the week they can pay a visit to the ‘Mommy shop’ to buy some treats with their earnings. Remembering to do a particular chore or all of their chores for a week straight can also earn them various bonuses. While my 2-year-old is still a bit young to fully appreciate the system, my 5-year-old has been highly motivated and looks for every opportunity to do a chore and earn some ‘mommy bucks’.

Bonus chores for pay

Another alternative is to only offer kids a financial reward for doing chores that go above and beyond their normal domain. For example, you might make it a normal expectation that your child keeps their own room tidy, looks after their pet, clears their own toys away in communal areas, and does their fair share of the cleaning. Over and above that, they can earn money for helping other family members with their given chores, or taking on more communal chores such as gardening or washing the family car. That way, they learn the value of teamwork, they get practice in anticipating others’ needs, and can experience the internal and external rewards that come with going the extra mile.

Getting started with age appropriate chores

Great, so you know why chores are a good idea, when is the best age to get started, and what chores are realistic for your child’s age and stage.

Now the big question is, how to get your kids on board and motivated so that chores become a natural part of daily life…

We cover this in more detail in PART 2 of this Ultimate Guide:

How to Get Kids to Do Chores – 7 Solid Tactics to Sidestep the Drama

What we focus on there are both short-term and long-term strategies which you can implement and work on as you go.

For now, here are 3 practical steps to start with if you’re eager to get the wheels turning…

1. Have a family meeting to talk about household chores

Order a pizza or grab some donuts and make this a fun family event. Introducing chores as a fun family activity is the best way to spin this one! Keep it brief and avoid lecturing mode. Focus on how doing chores together is an opportunity to learn something new, show off your skills and be a superhero for your family!

2. Make a list of household chores & duties

Break down chores into daily and weekly chores, and create a list for each room in the house.  Download our free printable family chore list below to get you started.

3. Make a chore chart and get your kids signed up

Visual aids and reminders are an essential ingredient of turning chores into good habits. Use colorful, fun chore charts for younger kids that they can stick up in their room, and track their progress with stars or stickers (this is often enough of a reward to motivate toddlers and preschoolers!). Check out our free printable chore charts below.

getting kids started on age appropriate chores with a chore list

FREE PRINTABLE CHORE CHARTS 


Kindergarten Boys Chore Chart [printable pdf download]  

Age appropriate chore chart kindergarten (boys)

 

Kindergarten Girls Chore Chart [printable pdf download] 

Age appropriate chore chart kindergarten (girls)

Family Chore Chart [printable pdf download]  

Family chore list

1 thought on “Age Appropriate Chores: The Ultimate Guide [With Free Printable Chore Charts]”

  1. Maxine Waring

    This sounds so important and do-able, Andy. Very detailed and helpful. Hope it brings fun to many over-burdened moms, and helps to cement and grow great family relationships. So often when u do something practical together it develops a relationship, even for adult friends.

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