With our schedules so full and our lives so busy, it’s important that we as parents make sure to teach our kids from an early age that they will be expected to chip in and help with family chores.
Giving children responsibilities helps their confidence grow and helps them understand their place in the family. What do I mean by this?
Well, as kids learn and grow they are striving to understand how they fit into the world – especially within their family unit.
Encouraging good habits like cleaning up after playtime, keeping their rooms neat and tidy, and helping with family chores will help them to understand the importance of teamwork.
Being part of a family takes teamwork to make sure things run as smoothly as possible!
Motivated by Good Will, Not Money
Personally, I suggest not using a reward system such as allowance when it comes to household responsibilities.
We should expect our kids to help out and get involved, without the added incentive of getting paid, and they should understand that expectation of them as well.
Communicate to them that chipping in and doing their share is just part of being a family.
Position it as a necessary part of a well-balanced life, and they’ll grow up understanding that, in order to get along well in life and with others, they will need to step up and do their part in the world (without needing extra incentives!)
Instead of setting your kids up to look for external rewards in everything, strive to ensure they feel appreciated and honored for the work they do.
Make Chores Fun & Find the Teachable Moments
For young kids, around 3-5 years old, make sure to keep things light and enjoyable. During cleanup and chore time my toddler often doesn’t even realize she is working because she is having so much fun in the process!
It’s all about how you frame it (and your kids will follow your example.) Remember, they are still little and learning, so frame it as a fun activity to do together and be sure to emphasize the importance of the job and how they’re helping by stepping up.
Let Them Have Ownership
Establishing the expectation that your child must take ownership of their personal belongings and their chores will help to foster independence and teach responsibility at an early age.
Set this precedent at an early age, and continue to reinforce it as they get older, making sure to not micromanage their efforts and jump in to help with every little thing.
You don’t want them continuously coming to you for help with things they are perfectly capable of doing on their own.
Examples of Simple Chores for Little Ones
To give you a good starting place for implementing these ideas with your younger children, here is a simple list of household chores appropriate for kids between the ages of 3-5, to help get them involved in the workings of the home.
1. Clean up toys
It’s a great idea to begin teaching these concepts by starting with your child’s own belongings. Turn some music on, give them directions and go to town getting their toys cleaned up in a fun, enjoyable way.
2. Set or clear the table
I don’t know about you, but my kids are always asking to help when I am cooking. When it’s meal time, let your child know that you have a special, important job that needs done in order for the meal to happen, and you’re going to give it to them!
3. Help with cooking
As I just mentioned, kids LOVE helping with cooking, which for some parents can be stressful. Don’t let it be! Create opportunities for them to be helpful during the cooking process in safe ways, such as helping you stir, retrieving ingredients from the refrigerator, or throwing things away when done.
4. Feed the family pet
This is a great opportunity for teaching young kids how to follow simple instructions, like how many scoops of food to put in the bowl, or how high to fill up the water. It will also help teach consistency because it’s important that the job gets done or your beloved family pet will go hungry!
5. Clean up spills or messes
The idea here is, “you break it, you bought it!” As early as possible, start teaching kids that if they cause a problem they need to be part of resolving that problem. Teach them to take personal responsibility by holding them responsible for their mistakes. Don’t shame them, but encourage them to make things right and offer to help as they do.
6. Get ready for the day
Teach your kids how to choose their clothes for the next day, then get dressed themselves and brush their own teeth. Once they’ve mastered this routine it will make morning so much easier for you AND they’ll feel so accomplished being able to do things for themselves.
7. Water the plants
This one is similar to feeding the pets. Make sure you child knows what will happen if the plants don’t get watered, so they learn that certain things have to be done or you’ll deal with negative outcomes later.
8. Sort laundry and match socks
This is perfect for developing cognitive skills as they learn concepts like matching. Ask them to make piles of their clothes, their sibling’s clothes if they have any, and of mommy or daddy’s clothes. Then ask them to find pairs of socks that go together.
9. Washing dishes
Whether you get them up on a chair and washing dishes in the soapy water with you, or helping you load the dishwasher after meals, get them involved in this essential cleanup step after meals. Again, this will teach them to take personal responsibility for themselves instead of waiting on other people to do things for them.
10. Collect the mail or newspaper
Most kids I know LOVE to see what the mail brought for the day, so give the job of retrieving it every day to them.
Do you have any tried and true favorite chores that you kids are responsible for doing?