With our busy schedules of school, work, homework, extracurricular activities, and other life commitments, it can be difficult to imagine adding chores to the agenda. If chores have fallen to the wayside you might ask “What are they missing out on?”. Chores can be vital in establishing skills academically, as well as in arts, and sporting.
Engaging in chores encourages confidence and a strong work ethic, and helps our children develop a sense of pride that they are contributing to the family. They teach children how to work as part of a team, and how to care for their home, family and themselves (personal chores). Chores are valuable life skills in preparation for being an adult; organisation, responsibilities, ticking things off for the day, communication, and time management to name a few.
When introducing chores we want to focus on understanding what our children are able to participate in, and when they should be introduced to these tasks. Please note that for some chores, supervision may be required for safety or to ensure that a task is being completed to an appropriate quality. For example, younger children brushing their teeth or using the vacuum.
Important things to remember about chores:
- Simple and clear steps reduces confusion.
- A demonstration on how to complete the chore is highly recommended.
- Adding one chore at a time, particularly for younger children, allows this to become part of their routine and is less overwhelming.
Below you will find some suggestions for age appropriate chores, however it is always recommended to discuss this with your therapist if you have any concerns with your child being able to complete age appropriate tasks, or if they seem to be continually missing steps after multiple demonstrations.
Chores for Children Aged 3-5yrs
- Brush their teeth / hair
- Get dressed or put on shoes
- Pick up/pack away their toys when finished playing
- Wash hands
- Dirty clothes in the wash basket / bucket
- Lids back on Textas
- Throwing away rubbish
- Pack their bag
- Helping with setting / clearing the table
- Clear the table before meals (particularly if they were using the table for activities)
- Feeding pets
- Bringing in mail
- Checking the post box
- Help with washing, drying and packing away dishes
- Help carry shopping bags
- Sort laundry into colours before washing
Chores for Children Aged 6-7yrs
- Choose clothes and get dressed
- Make bed
- Tidy room
- Fold and put away clothing
- Make small snacks
- Pack / unpack bag
- Shower / bathe themselves
- Empty dishwasher
- Set and wipe down table
- Help prepare meals
- Water plants
- Change toilet paper roll
Chores for Children Aged 8-9yrs
- Preparation of simple snacks
- Completing personal hygiene tasks
- Putting away their laundry
- Taking care of their belongings
- Clean their bedroom daily
- Setting an alarm
- Preparation for school
- Remove sheets from bed
- Walking pets
- Load dishwasher
- Packing away groceries
- Peel vegetables
- Cook simple foods
- Simple cleaning tasks
- Water plants
- Help wash the car
- Take out rubbish
- Assist with younger siblings
Chores for Children Aged 10yrs +
- Making bed
- Cleaning room
- Getting ready for school
- Doing homework
- Charging their devices for school
- Walking pets
- Loading the dishwasher
- Carrying groceries
- Adding items to shopping list
- Folding washing / putting washing machine on
- Helping with meals
Should your Child be Rewarded for Doing Chores?
Chores do not necessarily need to be rewarded, as the reward may be in completing the task successfully, or their contribution to the family. However, if your child requires some additional incentive, some ideas for rewards may include: use of a rewards card, once they have completed all their responsibilities, or their rewards chart indicates their achievement; then they may be able to choose what’s for dinner the next day, what movie to watch for family night, or which game you will play as a family on the weekend. When it comes to older children, monetary rewards can be used to teach them the management and value of money. Whatever reward you choose, work the incentive out in collaboration with your child, and this will ensure it is more motivating for them to complete their chores.
Making Chores More Successful:
⇒ Start Early
If you support your child to begin engaging in chores when they are younger, there will likely be less reluctance to participate as they get older, as these tasks will already be part of their daily routine.
⇒ Specific and Simple Instructions
Demonstrating each step of the instructions until they can do it on their own. One instruction at a time e.g. “First put your toys away in the cupboard”, “then get the cups for the table”. See the Blog on 13th February 2023 “How many instructions should my child be able to follow?” for more details on providing instructions.
Praise given both during and after chores goes a long way. Explain to them why their contribution helped, and how much this assisted the family. Focusing on all the things that they can do and are already doing, rather than what they are not doing, is a great motivator.
⇒ Participation not Perfection
We should not be expecting perfection, particularly while children are still learning how to complete their chores. Supervise and support them initially, and then let them do it on their own when they are ready. You can fix up anything, if needed, after they are finished. It is best to not fix it when kids are watching, so they can experience pride in their effort.
⇒ Not Completing Their Chores on Their Behalf
If their chores are regularly completed for them, children will quickly learn that they don’t need to do them, as they will get done regardless. Even if they are tired, or are having a busy week, we want to reinforce that everyone has responsibilities and contributes in the family.
⇒ Avoid Nagging
Nagging and constant reminders will only turn chores into a battle. Rather, calmly use the “first/then” strategy. For example, “First you brush your teeth, then we read a book”. The aim is to have fun doing these tasks, and work together as a family.
For some children, following instructions or participating in family responsibilities can be incredibly challenging. Whether your child is having difficulty in remembering the steps, struggles with motivation, or something else entirely, your occupational therapist will be able to provide you with strategies and support to assist both your family and your child. The therapists at Kids that Go may just be the answer you are looking for. Feel free to contact us on 07 3087 1904.
NICOLE NIJSKENS (Occupational Therapist).