We’ve all watched Little House on the Prairie where Laura and Mary are sent out to do their chores straight after school and before supper, haven’t we? We all gaze at the screen before our eyes move swiftly to the pile of toys strewn around the living room. Why can’t our kids do their chores in the same uncomplaining way the Ingalls girls do?
They may be reluctant to help out, but there’s no doubt that kids feel good about themselves when they feel needed, and giving them household chores can actually help to do this!
According to the experts, the secret is to ask your kids for help with chores that suit their age and ability. A job that’s difficult will prove frustrating for your child, while one that’s too easy will be boring.
Start your kids off with simple jobs such as looking after their own toys or rooms. One important message to get across is that these tasks are part of caring for the family as a whole. This promotes a sense of responsibility and participation.
To pay or not to pay? Yes, that’s definitely the question! Research has shown that it’s better not to offer financial incentives, such as pocket money, for doing jobs that contribute positively to family life. Focus instead on the fact that your child’s helping out makes them an important part of the family. Encouragement will ensure that they remain interested in helping.
Toys are probably one of the main ‘clean up’ jobs that need done when you have small kids, so start with this task. In addition to encouraging your child to pick their toys up, you can also encourage them when it comes to sorting them and keeping them tidy.
Don’t underestimate the abilities of even the smallest of helpers! Encourage your toddler to put his or her small toys in a basket, put wet clothes into the drier, or put placemats on the table. When young kids become accustomed to helping out, it will be much easier to introduce more complex tasks when they are older. The secret is to make it fun.
Two and three year olds can:
- Fill baskets with toys
- Put clothing in laundry basket
- Put shoes in shoebox
- Set placemats on the dinner table
Four year olds can:
- Dress themselves
- Bring the post in from the front door
- Put wet clothes into the dryer
- Fold small towels and napkins
Five year olds can:
- Help with preparing meals – but only with supervision
- Help with grocery shopping – and putting the groceries away!
- Hand you wet clothes to be hung up to dry
- Set the table at mealtimes
- Make their bed
- Put on their own socks and shoes. Velcro fasteners are perfect.
Six year olds can:
- Put away laundry
- Use a hand-held vacuum to hoover
- Carry dishes to the sink
- Make sandwiches to help with getting their lunch ready for school
- Tidy up their bedroom
Seven and eight year olds can:
- Give their pets food and water
- Clean the bathroom sink
- Put away cutlery and crockery
- Dust ornaments and shelves
- Wipe kitchen benches
- Water indoor plants