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The Benefits of Having Kids Do Household Chores

Help them develop a sense of responsibility and self-worth with this list of age-appropriate tasks.

Ten years ago, as part of a study conducted by UCLA's Center on Everyday Lives of Families, a group of researchers recorded video for a solid week at home in the lives of 32 Southern California families. Since then, they have been scrutinizing the footage for information about the lives of the American family.

One of the team’s most widely publicized finding suggests that "American children seemed relatively helpless compared with those in other cultures." When contrasted with Samoan children who are expected to serve food to their elders, waiting patiently in front of them before they eat, or video they took of a girl around 5 years old in Peru's Amazon region climbing a tall tree to harvest papaya, and helping haul logs thicker than her leg to stoke a fire, I can clearly see what they mean.

Another 2002 study by the University of Minnesota found that, “by involving children in tasks, parents teach their children a sense of responsibility, competence, self-reliance, and self-worth that stays with them throughout their lives.”

This is not news to me, or my readers, as I’ve made no secret that I've become a big fan of helping kids feel valued and needed in a home. There is so much more benefit in allowing them to help and work, rather than just doing it all yourself, which can often be much easier. What you trade in ease, you can gain in helping to build up your child’s esteem, work ethic, character, independence, and compassion.

But it can be difficult to figure out what to expect from your child when it comes to chores. Are they really capable of helping to clean? There are many online sources offering ideas about age-appropriate chores for kids.

I have culled through them, added some of my on, and compiled a list I believe would be the most useful and realistic.

Some chores 2 to 3-year-old children can do…

  • Help make the bed
  • Pick up toys and books
  • Laundry: transferring wet clothes, carrying, folding small linens like napkins
  • Help feed pets
  • Help wipe up messes
  • Dust with socks on their hands
  • Sweep with a child’s broom
  • Mop in areas with help
  • Put away silverware into drawer
  • Help load dishwasher
  • Rinse/scrub foods for cooking prep

Some chores preschoolers can do in addition to the ones above…

  • Clear and set the table
  • Dust
  • Help out more with cooking and preparing food, even chopping with a small serrated knife and help
  • Carrying and putting away groceries
  • Fold and put away laundry

Some chores that 6 to 8-year-old kids are capable of in addition to the ones above…

  • Take care of pets
  • Vacuum and mop
  • Take out trashLoad and unload the dishwasher

Some chores that preteens are capable of in addition to the ones above…

  • Wash the car
  • Walk dog
  • Learn to wash dishes by hand
  • Help prepare simple meals
  • Clean the bathroom
  • Rake leaves
  • Operate the washer and dryer

Some chores teenagers are capable of in addition to the ones above…

  • Replace light bulbs and vacuum cleaner bags
  • All parts of the laundry
  • Wash windows
  • Clean out refrigerator and other kitchen appliances
  • Prepare meals
  • Prepare grocery lists
  • Grocery shop
  • Care for younger family members

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