Giving your child chores to do is important because it helps them to develop a sense of value and also helps them to develop a sense of responsibility. You do not have to wait until your child is older to give them chores. The younger you start assigning specific chores to your child, the better. Age appropriate chores benefit all the family and the key is consistency and clear expectations.
The important thing to remember is to keep the chore age appropriate. If you assign a chore to a young child that is beyond his capability, then you are only setting him up for failure. This will have the opposite effect that you are looking for. Instead of feeling proud of his accomplishment, he will feel a sense of shame. Instead of feeling empowered, he will feel like a failure. Not only that, he will not look forward to doing any more chores for you because he is afraid he will fail again.
Erin has always enjoyed helping us at home and we noticed that Erin seemed to naturally want to help do things around the house, so we took notice of these things and incorporated them into chores for her to do. On Sundays when Lee does the weekly shopping, Erin was eager to help him carry the shopping bags into the house. Therefore Lee always made sure to have a couple of bags packed especially light so that Erin would be able to lift and carry them. She also assigned Erin then unpacks these and puts the shopping away in the correct places.
As your child gets older, you can easily age appropriate chores. Common sense will tell you that you should never allow a child to use any kind of cleaning product that could get in his eyes or harm them in any way. Many of these products are toxic. Some of the new disposable cleaning wipes would be perfect for a child who is age four and up to use in helping dust furniture. Just make sure your child is past the age where they might be tempted to put the wipe in their mouth.
Chores such as making their beds and keeping their toys picked up are chores that can start at a very young age. It is a good habit for your child to get into and it will stay with him as he continues to grow and develop. Mine have always had to tidy their rooms and all three tend to keep them very tidy now that they are older. When they were younger Magnetic Chore Charts really helped everyone remember what they were required to do.
Chores that are more appropriate for older children are chores such as washing dishes, doing laundry, vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom or working in the garden. Our 14 year old has to walk the dog three times a week and we have set nights so that it is very clear and then there are no excuses!
Erin also sets the dinner table every evening whilst the teenager makes the drinks for the table. This encourages them to be thoughtful and do tasks for each other.
Sometimes it may seem like more trouble than it is worth in being consistent in making your child do their chores. The truth is…you won’t regret it. The lessons and tools that your child will learn will be priceless. They will also learn the importance of being responsible and that is something that will carry over into other areas such as their schoolwork.
Just remember to keep age appropriate chores managable and suitable. By doing this, you will not be disappointed with the results.