When are my children old enough to do chores?
18-months to 2-years-old
It depends what you mean by “chores.” As early as 18-months, babies can follow simple directions. I often ask my youngest to “Please get a diaper, wipes and the butt-spray.” If she asks for water, I may ask her to, “Please get me a cup.” She is also “expected” to try and “pick up” after herself.
Keep your requests straightforward. At 18-months, children are too young to be given a list, but can complete one duty at a time. For example, if my 18-month-old has scattered toys all over the floor and I would like her to aid in picking up I single out one category of toy, say blocks, and ask her to pick up all the blocks. Once she has completed tiding them up, I may ask her to move on to the next item. Between 18-months to 2-years of age, “chores” or helping out will benefit the toddler more than the you. Having them assist in housework/household tasks at an early age sets up expectations, teaches responsibility/good habits and respect.
Pick a few simple tasks that you would like your child “assigned” regularly. Getting their shoes or jacket, picking up toys or Cheerios they threw on the floor. You should make sure your house is set up in a way that he/she may complete the task. If you would like for your child to get his/her shoes, put his/her shoes in a low bin by the door. If you would like your little one to get a diaper for you, make sure he/she has access, etc.
By 3-years-old, your child my want to “help” you more than you may want the “assistance.” If he/she has a sibling, ask him/her to aid you in caring for the other… getting a diaper or wipes, picking out an outfit (they may look odd, but they’ll love helping), bringing his/her sibling a toy. Your 3-year-old may also want to help you clean. Use their excitement as a way to bond and teach, wether or not they can preform the task properly. If you are dusting, have them follow you with a dry rag and let them “clean” each item after you do. If they want to use a spray bottle, fill one up with water. This time have them spray items you are about to clean. They may never want to do chores as much as they do now. The steps you take in the present may instill in them great habits for their future.
At 4-years-old, children may still feel as if the world revolves around them, but they truly aim to please. Praise is key here. Not only will approval build self confidence, but it will give your 4-year-old momentum to push through the task at hand. If your 4-year-old child has a younger sibling, he/she may also love participating in household chores, so they might be able to teach their little brother or sister. Some of my most cherished memories are of my 4-year-old teaching her baby sister to preform tasks. There is a pride and joy about her when she helps/teaches others.
By 5-years-old, your child is finally ready to preform more complex tasks with or without your assistant. If you have a family pet, he/she will be able to fill the water and dish out the food, clean-up spills, brush his/her teeth and hair, dress themselves and retrieve anything you request.
6-years-old to 8-years-old
He or she can finally execute chores in a way that may assist you. They will be able to bring in articles from the car, empty the dishwasher or vacuum the floors. These chores may not be completed with perfection, but your child should have the ability to accomplish them with satisfactory results.
I am not the authority on any topic asked in this forum. For questions that may have medical implications, please consult your doctor or midwife. The purpose of this section of the site is to provide support, help, or a sounding board for individuals. Whether a person is going through struggles, would like to know they’re not alone, or find out which bottle worked best for my children, I will do my best to answer. There are going to be many ways to reply to all questions posted. I am merely providing my perspective. This forum is not meant for debate.