Wondering which chores your child could be doing now? This list of age-appropriate chores for kids can help.
Research suggests giving kids chores helps them in multiple areas of life: academically, socially, emotionally, and eventually in their future career.
Chores also encourage a team mindset in kids as they help their family, they build a strong work ethic, and instill a sense of responsibility. Knowing how to do basic household cleaning also benefits kids when they leave the nest and enter adulthood.
When to start chores with your kids
As soon as your toddler is mobile and can grasp objects is a good time! Of course, at this stage, the idea is less about assigning chores but instead to encourage a helping mindset. And toddlers are eager helpers.
As kids get older, around age four, they can begin doing a few more specific tasks such as helping with meal prep (with supervision), feeding pets or helping to match clean socks.
And as they mature and become more capable, kids and teens can get in the habit of doing both daily chores that help out the family as well as personal chores such as cleaning their bedroom or doing their laundry.
No matter the age, it’s important to create a light family atmosphere around chores. Kids should be viewed as partners, not employees, when it comes to chores. And including kids in the process of planning, organizing, and executing chores as equal members will make them more willing to do them.
Should your child get paid to do chores?
Think of it this way – adults don’t get paid to do chores so why should children? If we are teaching our kids to be self-sufficient adults, they need to learn how to do grunt work, such as chores, without a reward.
Research shows that providing a reward to motivate kids to do their chores will get them to do chores initially, but over the long run it can kill internal motivation. It creates a mindset in kids that looks for rewards to accomplish tasks rather than just doing whatever is necessary.
Furthermore, as kids get older, they may suddenly decide that a monetary reward for putting the dishes away or vacuuming the living room isn’t worth their time anymore. So then you’re stuck. It’s difficult to switch gears and get your child to ask your child to help out around the house without a reward when they’ve grown accustomed to them.
Lists of age-appropriate chores
Knowing how to start giving age-appropriate chores to kids can be half the challenge. (Click here for detailed advice on how best to get started) As well as trying to determine which tasks children are developmentally ready to do.
No parent wants to discourage their child by giving them a chore that’s beyond their capabilities.
The following is a list of age-appropriate chores for kids grouped by age. Any task listed in a younger age group is appropriate for older kids too.
In addition to helping you determine which household tasks your child is capable of doing, this list will also hopefully provide ideas for what your child could be doing now.
Chores for 1-3 year olds
At ages one to three, young toddlers may seem too immature to be helping out around the home. And assigning housework at this age may be too much for young children to handle. But toddlerhood is the ideal time to begin instilling a “helper” mindset in kids.
Toddlers are curious, eager to try new things, and willing to help. Take advantage of this stage by allowing your toddler to help alongside you. For example, they could fold laundry, wash windows or put their dirty clothes in a hamper.
None of these tasks will be done well, but that’s not really the point. What’s more important is encouraging your child to see himself or herself as a helper. (Click here for detailed advice on how to get started with toddler chores)
Chores can also be made into a game at this age. Place age-appropriate chore cards in a bowl and let your toddler pick one out every day. It can be fun to see which chore they choose and toddlers will feel good about themselves taking on a small responsibility each day.
The following is a list of chores toddlers can begin doing on their own:
For ages 1-2:
- Put toys away
- Put dirty clothes in hamper
- Help clean up own messes: spilled milk, water, etc.
For ages 2-3:
- All previous
- Pick up toys
- Help set table
- Help clean up spills
- Wipe baseboards
- Dress themselves
- Take dishes to the sink after meals
- Guided help putting away laundry
- Outside tasks: rake leaves, help plant plants, weed, etc.
Interested in getting your kids started on chores? My four-lesson course will teach you how to get started, avoid nagging & power struggles, and keep your kids motivated. Click here or the image below to learn more.
Chores for 4-5 year olds
As kids become preschoolers, their motor skills mature and they’re more capable of demonstrating greater responsibility.
Younger kids are also able to begin to do assigned or daily housework. Although making a game out of cleaning up with these chore cards can still add an element of fun.
If you haven’t begun chores with your children until now (and click here for advice on how to get started), the good news is that most preschoolers are still eager to help and will likely want to contribute to family cleaning.
For ages 4-5:
- All previous
- Make bed
- Help clean bedroom
- Get own drinks
- Put dirty dishes in the dishwasher
- Help with meal prep
- Water plants
- Bring mail into the house
- Feed pets and give them water
- Help put away groceries
- Help load the dryer
- Help match socks
Get your kids started on chores with these cards. They can serve as a visual reminder for kids and make doing chores fun! Click here to learn more.
Chores for 6-9 year olds
By the time kids enter elementary school, they’re capable of taking on much more responsibility and can begin to do tasks that parents previously did for them.
At this age, it’s fairly easy to incorporate a few daily age-appropriate chores into children’s routines. But having a visual reminder like a chore chart or chore cards can help both kids and parents remember what needs to be done each day.
This housework doesn’t need to take long, and truthfully, remembering to do it is half the battle. But these small acts of responsibility add up – supporting kids’ sense of themselves as helpers and squelching any growing sense of entitlement.
For ages 6-7:
- All previous
- Light cleaning of bathroom
- Sweep floors
- Put together lunch for school
- Vacuum small areas
- Help load the washer with clothes
For ages 8-9:
- All previous
- Wash dishes
- Bring trash to curb on trash day
- Fold laundry and put it away in room
Chores for 10-12 year olds
By the time they’re tweens, kids can begin to take on slightly more challenging housework and operate machinery that’s simply too dangerous for young children.
Kids at this age are also able to learn life skills such as doing their own laundry from start to finish and making easy meals for their family. Keep in mind that as children enter their teen years, life gets busy so finding the time to teach life skills such as these can be more challenging. It’s best to begin now while kids’ schedules are not jam-packed with academics, sports, and other activities.
Even though they’re older, don’t expect your tween to always remember to do their chores – especially if there are far more interesting activities to do. Having a visual reminder, like a chore chart in the kitchen, can help everyone stay on top of who is responsible for which tasks each day.
For ages 10-12:
- All previous
- Wash, dry and put away laundry
- Make easy meals for family
- Mop floors
- Clean toilets
- Wash windows
- Take out the garbage
Chores for 13+ year olds
By the time they reach the teen years, kids are almost entirely capable of taking on any chore their parents can do.
Of course, keep in mind that housework that seems easy to us, may not be so straight-forward for teens. They’ll often need direction and coaching when beginning responsibilities so they’re able to do them well.
Many teens have phones that can help remind them of what they need to do when. But if that’s not enough, or if your teen doesn’t have a phone, a visual reminder like a chore chart can help.
- All previous
- Iron clothes
- Vacuum entire house
- Unload dishwasher
- Mow lawn
Sign up for my email list and I’ll send you a copy of my Age-Appropriate Chores for Kids. It includes all the chores listed in this post by age. Click on the image below to sign up and receive your free PDF copy of this list.
What to do next…
1. Subscribe to Self-Sufficient Kids’ email list.
Like what you read here and want to learn more? Every Thursday I’ll send you one parenting tip about raising self-sufficient kids and creating the peaceful relationship you yearn to have with your child. Click here to sign up.
2. Take one of my quizzes!
Find out if you’re raising a self-sufficient kid (click here) or if you’re doing too much for your kids (click here). At the end of each quiz, you’ll be asked to provide your email address to see the results.
3. Get your kids started on chores.
Learn how to get your child started on chores (& keep them motivated + avoid power struggles) by enrolling in my Get Your Kids Successfully Started on Chores course. Click here to learn more and sign-up.
About Kerry Flatley
Hi! I’m Kerry, the mother of two girls and a certified parent educator. I believe it is possible for parents to have a supportive, loving, and warm relationship with their kids while raising them to be independent and ultimately self-sufficient. Over the years, I’ve read numerous books and articles that support this belief and I’ve put these ideas into practice with my own kids. Read more about me and Self-Sufficient Kids here.