Chores for kids and Why It’s Beneficial for them to get involved

For Christmas this year, one of the things I bought my 4 year old son was a reward chart. Now that might seem a little strange and kind of scrouge-like (my husband certainly thought it was) but as a mother of two, I know that assigning chores to my children will not give them a dreadful childhood but, in fact, will help them build self-reliance and responsibility. What better gift is there I say?!?

Donna Volpitta, a parenting expert and co-author of The Resilience Formula: A Guide to Proactive, Not Reactive, Parenting, agrees, telling us that, “Chores are important because they are critical for healthy brain development. When we contribute, our brains release neurochemicals that make us feel good. Think of neurochemicals as text messages to the brain. When kids perform chores or successfully complete a task, they get messages that say, ‘Wow – that felt good” (dopamine), ‘Wow- you are really good at that’ (serotonin), and ‘Boy, you are loved’ (oxytocin).” When kids are not given the opportunity to experience that, she says, we are priming their brains to seek that elsewhere. “I love to say to parents that self-esteem is not a gift you can give,” Volpitta mentions. “It is a neurochemical reaction that you rob your child of when you don’t allow them to struggle.”

Could my struggles with anxiety and depression stem from a lack of chores growing up? There’s no way to really tell, of course. I’m sure there are many things I could unpack from my childhood that are likely contributors, but if assigning chores to my children will assist in the avoidance of anxiety and depression, then let’s get the chore chart out!

But what are age-appropriate chores, and how early can children begin doing them?

Michael Delman, CEO, and Founder of Beyond BookSmart says to “Explain to your children very early on [as early as two] that chores are simply part of being a member of the household. It’s a simple fact that the house won’t run itself, and everyone needs to contribute a fair amount. The reward for all is if everyone can count on each other to do their jobs, then everyone benefits.”

Delman also explains not to expect kids to perfect their chores from the get-go. “As kids get older, don’t assume they will just magically know how to do things like taking out the garbage or loading a dishwasher. These often need to be broken down in pieces and explained and modelled bit by bit so a child really understands what the completed task should look like.” Children gain a sense of pride, ownership, and responsibility when they know they have contributed in a meaningful way, he tells us.

So now that we know for sure that encouraging your children to complete chores and jobs around the house is actually incredibly beneficial for the development of your kids, here’s a list I’ve put together of age appropriate chores for kids to help inspire you to teach your children self-reliance and responsibility.

Age-Appropriate Chores for your kids around the house

Ages 2-3
Put dirty clothes in laundry basket
Put clothes away in drawers
Put rubbish in the bin
Match and fold socks
Pick up toys
Stack books on bookshelf

Ages 4-6
All of the above, plus…

Clean up spills
Water houseplants
Make bed
Feed pets
Set and clear the table
Help put groceries away
Replace toilet paper roll
Help wash the car
Help fold tea towels
Dust

Ages 7-11
All of the above, plus…

Fold laundry
Vacuum
Load and unload dishwasher
Take out the rubbish and recycling
Take rubbish bins to the curb
Bring in the mail/newspaper
Wipe down kitchen and bathroom counters
Rake leaves and weed
Change lightbulbs
Walk dog
Help put away groceries

Ages 12+
All of the above, plus…

Mow the lawn
Babysit younger siblings
Cook simple meals
Laundry
Clean bathroom
Mop floors

Laura Ruston

Mum to Harvey. Wife to Dave. Founder of MUMOKI. Art lover, design obsessed, lipstick hoarder.