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Age Appropriate Household Chores List for Kids


Mother and daughter, girl folding towel
Takahiro Igarashi/Image Source/Getty Images

It's not easy to pick age appropriate chores for our children. As parents, we don't want spills or messes or imperfectly made beds. But how are kids going to become capable and successful unless we let them experiment and fail and learn the hard way?

We can set our kids up for success by choosing chores for kids that are within their ability but still challenging. There are plenty of excellent reasons to get kids doing chores: building their self-esteem, giving them a positive way to belong in the family and lightening your work-life balance challenge. This children's chores list will give you some ideas for which household chores are age appropriate at each stage of development.

Chores for Toddlers (2-3 Years Old)

When you've got a toddler, it seems the constant refrain to your day is, "I do it myself!" This can be annoying, but resist snatching the knife or jacket out of your toddler's hands when you're in a hurry. Instead, think about the long-term payoff of channeling this energy and desire to contribute into a healthy direction. Give yourself extra time for cleaning or cooking so that you have the time (and patience) to teach your toddler to do these simple chores.

Expect to be doing these chores alongside your toddler. Even after she masters the job, you'll need to be in the same room or perhaps working on a related task. You can always make it even more fun with silly songs, sing-along music or funny voices.

  • Pick up and put away toys to clean the playroom.
  • Make bed, with help.
  • Put dirty laundry in the basket.
  • Help a parent sweep or clean up spills.
  • Dust.
  • Fill a pet's food and water bowls.
  • Shred lettuce for salad or help mix ingredients together.
  • Spray and wipe windows and counters, with help.
  • Put out clean towels and toilet paper, with help.

Chores for Preschoolers (4-5 Years Old)

Preschoolers, in some ways, are the perfect age for beginning chores. They still want to contribute and be connected with their parents but they're more capable than toddlers. They can follow multiple-step directions and are likely more patient when you are teaching them the correct way to do something. They may enjoy the visual reminder and routine of a chore chart. Here are the chores that most preschoolers can learn to tackle:

  • All the chores on the list above.
  • Bring belongings from the car to the home.
  • Set the table.
  • Help a parent chop and prepare food.
  • Help carry in groceries. (Strategically give them the lighter bags.)
  • Match socks and sort clean laundry.
  • Clean grit and dried toothpaste from sink.
  • Empty trash cans.
  • Spray and wipe windows and counters, with help.
  • Clean floors with a Swiffer, vacuum or dry mop.
  • Pour cereal and make other no-cook meals.
  • Water indoor plants.

Chores for School-Age Kids (6-8 Years Old)

School-age children definitely are capable of a lot, so you want to get them used to chores when they're fun and before they hit the sometimes-oppositional tween years. Keep their interest high by giving them challenges and letting them learn chores that their peers may not be allowed to tackle. As always, make sure to do the chores with them until they've truly mastered them, and be wiling to keep them company when asked. Here are some ideas:

  • All the chores on the lists above.
  • Write thank you notes or the family's schedule (if you have a written calendar on display).
  • Take a pet for a walk or change a dirty cage/tank.
  • Help put groceries away in the pantry.
  • Vacuum or wet mop an entire room.
  • Fold laundry and put away, with help.
  • Unload dishwasher.
  • Spray and wipe outside of toilet; spray and scrub the bowl.
  • Spray and wipe shower stall or bathtub.
  • Chop food with a sharp knife and cook simple meals on the stove.
  • Fix their own snacks and pack lunch for school.
  • Clean the inside of the car.
  • Water the garden and help rake leaves or shovel snow.
  • Take out the trash.

Chores for Tweens (9-12 Years Old)

Tweens may seem like a challenge but if you stay one step ahead of them in the difficulty of the chore, you can keep them engaged and contributing to the family. Be sure to encourage them and appreciate all that they do, whether or not they do it with a smile. Here's where their abilities can shine:

  • All the chores on the lists above.
  • Clean the kitchen counters and sink.
  • Rinse dishes and load dishwasher.
  • Operate the washer and dryer.
  • Clean mirrors and the entire bathroom.
  • Help wash the car.
  • Cook simple meals, like fried eggs or pasta.

Chores for Teens (13-18 Years Old)

  • All the chores on the lists above.
  • Go grocery shopping (with parents until they can drive).
  • Plan and cook an easy dinner for the family.
  • Rinse dishes and load dishwasher.
  • Operate the washer and dryer.
  • Supervise a younger child.
  • Run family errands.
  • Mow the lawn.
  • Change light bulbs and the vacuum bag.
  • Learn to maintain a car and household appliances, such as defrosting the freezer.

If you're not sure where to start when it comes to chores and your children's age, why not show them this list and ask if there's a task they'd like to learn to master?

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