Moms understand the significance of delegating household chores, whether their child is a toddler who giggles with glee or an adolescent who is not so easily amused by a dust cloth and furniture polish. The family benefits from the child’s efforts, and the child gains lessons that generalize beyond the broom and dust pan.
Toddlers and Chores
When a toddler’s toys clutter a room, busy moms already know they can conserve time and effort by quickly picking up the toys, and then moving on to the next task on the agenda. Mom has a grander design in mind for enlisting her toddler’s help. Your little one gains self-confidence and learns responsibility when she completes simple chores for you. Consider adding chores that can easily become a part of your toddler’s daily routine. For example, your toddler can place her toys in the toy box before nap time. Permit your toddler to assist you with setting the table by placing napkins or other non-breakable essentials on the family table. Sure, you can accomplish the tasks more efficiently, but the lessons your toddler gains through helping are timeless.
Although your preschool child can accomplish chores beyond the toddler’s scope of ability, keep in mind that she will continue to require your guidance and praise. Preschool children are keen observers. They want to emulate you with enthusiasm and typically plead to assist with household chores. Examples of outside chores suitable for your preschool child include retrieving the newspaper, placing seeds in a bird feeder and simple yard tasks. Don’t be surprised if she wants to try her hand at raking, and this is okay, too. Remember to praise your child’s efforts when she “rakes” more grass than leaves. Indoors, permit your preschool child to help with daily pet care by brushing and feeding the pet. She can return all toys and other belongings to a designated location. Place a small laundry hamper in your child’s room and ask her to retrieve the dirty clothing. Although you may not look forward to sorting laundry, your preschool child will anticipate the chore with excitement when you permit her to separate white from dark-colored items.
School-Age Children and Chores
From ages 5 to 12, moms can expect their children to contribute regularly to household chores, and children can complete more tasks independently. Unlike the preschool child, school-age children are less likely to ask for chores and view them with less enthusiasm! School-age children face more demands on their time, so moms endeavor to strike a balance between ensuring that children contribute to the family while acknowledging other obligations and interests. Assign several daily chores and weekly chores. For example, daily chores for a 9-year-old child might include making her bed, unloading and loading the dishwasher and feeding the family pet. Weekly chores might include putting away her laundered clothes, emptying small trash cans and sweeping the floor.
Your adolescent child can probably complete most household chores with confidence and finesse. Teens may not complete chores with a smile on their faces and a song in their hearts, but they are capable of doing chores that younger siblings cannot. If your adolescent child has joined the proud ranks of licensed drivers, chores may include picking up a younger sister from dance class or filling up the vehicle with gasoline. Assign several daily and weekly chores to your adolescent child, acknowledging that she may keep you waiting for smiles and songs! Examples of daily chores include tidying up the kitchen after supper, making her bed and putting away her personal belongings. Weekly chores might include picking up items at the grocery store, vacuuming the family vehicle and dusting the furniture.
Becky Swain's first publication appeared in the "Journal of Personality Assessment" in 1984. Her articles have also appeared on various websites. She is an adjunct college instructor, licensed school psychologist and educational consultant. She holds a Master of Science in clinical psychology and a Doctor of Philosophy in educational psychology, both from Mississippi State University.