Picking out Chores that are Age Appropriate 

​UT expert suggests establishing chores when children are young so that children learn by doing. Photo by Catt Liu on Unsplash
Children having chores is a tradition that many families implement. By having chores in place it allows kids to learn responsibility, and dividing out chores gives parents help around the house. Chores, especially for the summer months, also helps parents answer the question, “What do I do with my kids while school is out?

Think your kids won’t go for the chores? Matt Devereaux, a child development specialist with University of Tennessee Extension, says there are a few different ways to make chores a little less of a hassle. Here are some of his recommendations:

- Don’t push perfection. Everyone is far from perfect, and it’s better to keep a more relaxed approach when it comes to how well your kids perform their chores. Pushing for perfection might mean a bit of a struggle on your hands. Or there’s a chance you will jump in and do it for them.

- Don't wait to establish chores. While you might think your child is too young to start chores, there are many chores that can be accomplished at an early age. By starting the chores early your child will learn by doing. 

- Don't be afraid to give out positive reinforcement. Start giving out those compliments immediately! Instead of waiting until the chore is done, praise and encourage your child while they are doing their chores. You want to keep a positive momentum going, especially with young kids. 

- Stay consistent. If you don't make your child regularly follow through, they might start pushing their chores to the side hoping someone else might do it for them.” 

Devereaux suggests that families make a list of all the jobs needed to be accomplished to keep the family going. “Have kids pick out the chores they’d most like to do,” he said. “Then create a chart to track progress.”

igning chores begs another question: should parents give an allowance to kids for doing their chores? According to Devereaux, “Chores are partly about responsibility and partly about learning household tasks. They are not focused on earning money. Yes, kids need to learn how to handle money, but not by doing chores they’re supposed to do anyway.”

For your younger kids Devereaux says, “It’s especially important to not tie allowances to chores for younger kids. That’s because a younger child may be less motivated by money and simply choose not to do them.”

However, for your older kids there is an exception. For kids that are already accustomed to having some type of responsibility, money can be a nice motivator when it comes to doing extra chores that are beyond their normal chores. 

Here is a list of some age-appropriate chores:

Chores for children ages 2 to 3

- Place toys in correct area
- Feed pets
- Place clothes in hamper
- Clean up spills
- Gather up books and magazines

Chores for children ages 4 to 5

- Clean out wastebaskets
- Pick up table after dinner
- Help remove weeds from garden
- Use a small vacuum to pick up small messes
- Water flowers
- Unload small/light items from the dishwasher
- Make bowl of cereal

Chores for children ages 6 to 7

- Divide out the laundry
- Sweep the floors
- Set and clean the table
- Help put together and pack lunches
- Pick up bedroom

Chores for children ages 8 to 9

- Load dishwasher
- Help put away groceries
- Vacuum
- Put snacks together
- Clean table after meals
- Put up their own laundry
- Cook small simple items such as toast
- Mop the floor

Chores for children ages 10 to older         

- Unload dishwasher
- Wash laundry
- Fold laundry
- Pick up and clean bathroom
- Wash car
- Cook a meal with supervision
- Look after younger siblings (with adult supervision)
- Change bed sheets                                                                     

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture celebrates 50 years of excellence in providing Real. Life. Solutions. through teaching, discovery and service. ag.tennessee.edu​.



Matt Devereaux, UT Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences, mdevereaux@utk.edu​