Doing chores is a tradition in many families. Chores help kids learn responsibility, and sharing chores gives you help around the house.

Not sure your kids will go for it? Take heart! Matt Devereaux, a child development specialist with University of Tennessee Extension says there are ways to make chores a little bit, well, less of a chore for everyone. Here are a few of his recommendations:

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Don't insist on perfection. No one is perfect, and it's better to have a more relaxed approach to how well your kids do their chores. Otherwise, you might have a struggle on your hands. Or you might jump in and do it for them, which would undermine the whole point.

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Don't delay. You might think your child is too young. But kids can do a lot of chores at an early age, and they'll learn by doing.

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Don't be stingy with praise. Get that praise going right away! Don't wait until the chore is done. Praise and encourage the child while the chore is in progress. You want to build positive momentum, especially with young kids.

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Don't be inconsistent. If your kids aren't expected to regularly follow through, they might start putting chores off in the hope that someone else will do them.


Devereaux
recommends that families create a list of every job it takes 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.”

Should your child get an allowance for chores? Usually not, Devereaux says, quoting most parenting experts.  “Chores are partly about responsibility and partly about learning household tasks. They're 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,” he said.

“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 to not do them,” Devereaux adds.

There's an exception: For older kids who already know how to be responsible, money can become a nice motivator for doing extra chores above and beyond their usual tasks.

Devereaux lists these tasks as age-appropriate chores:

Chores for children ages 2 to 3
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Put toys away
·       
Fill pet's food dish
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Put clothes in hamper
·       
Wipe up spills
·       
Pile books and magazines


Chores for children ages 4 to 5

·       
Empty wastebaskets
·       
Clear table
·      
Pull weeds if you have a garden
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Use hand-held vacuum to pick up crumbs
·       
Water flowers
·       
Unload utensils from dishwasher
·       
Fix bowl of cereal

Chores for children ages 6 to 7

·       
Sort laundry
·       
Sweep floors
·       
Set and clear table
·       
Help make and pack lunch
·       
Weed and rake leaves
·       
Keep bedroom tidy

Chores for children ages 8 to 9

·       
Load dishwasher
·       
Put away groceries
·       
Vacuum
·       
Make own snacks
·       
Wash table after meals
·       
Put away own laundry
·       
Cook simple foods, such as toast
·       
Mop floor

Chores for children ages 10 and older

·       
Unload dishwasher
·       
Do laundry
·        Fold laundry
·       
Clean bathroom
·       
Wash car
·       
Cook simple meal with supervision
·       
Babysit younger siblings (with adult in the home)
·       
Clean kitchen
·       
Change their bed sheets


UT Extension provides a gateway to the University of Tennessee as the outreach unit of the UT Institute of Agriculture. With an office in every Tennessee county, UT Extension delivers educational programs and research-based information to citizens throughout the state. In cooperation with Tennessee State University, UT Extension works with farmers, families, youth and communities to improve lives by addressing problems and issues at the local, state and national levels.

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Contact:

Matt Devereaux, Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, mdevereaux@utk.edu

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