Beginner Chores for a 3-Year Old - Suggestions?

Updated on April 19, 2012
Y.C. asks from Frederick, MD
17 answers

Hi Moms -

I was just thinking last night that my 3-year old daughter is ready for some small, structured chores, so that she can start learning the rewards of working. Simple stuff like putting toys in the basket, helping to clear the table after dinner, brushing her teeth, etc. I'd love to hear what you have done in your own household to instill a sense of responsibility and beginner 'allowances' for your littlest helpers.


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answers from Cincinnati on

My 2 yr old picks up all his own toys, and started putting away his own laundry (though it doesn't stay folded yet) he also holds the dust pan when ever I sweep and started helping take care of his little sister (gets bottles out of the fridge or grabs a clean diaper when she needs one.) He is also responsiable for helping make dinner. (He tears lettuce for a salads or mixes ingrediants before they go in the oven) Most of this stuff he does because he wants to help. He doesn't always like putting away his toys but usually does it with little fuss. We don't give allowances because we are teaching are child that helping around the house is part of being a family.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Richmond on

honestly the best thing to do is to keep the chores completely seperate, if you have more then one child, that way you dont have one child doing the bulk of the chores, but not getting the credit.
K. h.

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answers from Jacksonville on

I haven't read all your responses so far, but I just wanted to say that at 3 yrs old, your daughter probably won't get much out of any sort of monetary reward. Typically, at that age, they just like helping and a few words of praise or acknowledgement that they are doing a good job is all they really want/need.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Children are given thanks for doing chores. Even more thanks and complements when they remember without being asked (that will come later) but we do not give allowances or rewards for just being part of the family and doing our chores.

Setting the table, clearing the table. Toys back where they belong.

Carrying her clothes to her room, putting the clothes in their drawers.
Help carry things inside from the car.

Outside toys put back where they belong.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Kids have chores that are expected of them as members of the family that they do not get paid for. Those include; helping set the table, putting dishes in the dishwasher, cleaning their rooms (or picking up before bed), putting their clothes down the laundry shute.

The chores they each get paid for are in addition to those. My 7.5 year old takes the garbage/recycling to the cans as needed and then to the street for pick up, puts a new bag in the garbage can. My 5 year old swiffers under furniture once a week and cleans doorknobs with a clorox wipe once a week.

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answers from Chicago on

No allowances for my almost 3 yr old daughter either. She thinks it's fun to help, and she knows that everyone does "chores" around the house. Her responsibilities are:

put away her toys (done before getting a new one, but usually one huge roundup before bedtime too).

getting clothes out of the dryer (she LOVES this). pulling all the socks out of the clean basket and matching them into pairs.

putting away her socks, pants, and underwear. (her shirts go on hangers and she's too short to hang them up right now otherwise she'd do that too!)

putting her plates and cups into the sink after meals and snacks.

putting her dirty clothes in the hamper and brushing her teeth (although mom or dad usually does a "follow up") and putting on her pjs.

"diaper duty" for her baby sister - she brings a clean diaper and puts the dirty one in the trash/wetbag.

At this point, I guess it's not really "structured" as much as it is just "helping out."

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answers from New York on

Our DS, 18 months old, has taken on certain jobs for himself, already. He likes to carry the waste paper basket to the trash chute. he likes to wipe down his tray on the high chair, push in the chairs after every meal. He likes to collect coffee cups and carry them to the kitchen, and he likes to help unload the dishwasher, and he likes to pick the socks out of the laundry pile, and likes brushing his teeth and mine. He also picks up the toys that he's tossed out of his crib every morning, and tosses them back into the crib. His first "job" was putting his own nappies in the diaper pail. He is doing these things out of imitation, not in a chore sort of way. Just sharing these with you because kids are capable of doing quite a lot. I am sure that your 3 year old can do all this and more.

Good luck to you and yours,
F. B.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kalamazoo on

I think that kids should always help pick up their toys, take care of their own stuff,brush teeth etc without being paid for it.
I do give allowance for "extra" stuff though. I use a mixture of vinegar and water to dust the tv, glass, mirrors, windows - my kids have always like to do that! and it's not toxic cleaner. Maybe show her how to fold towels?? We also wipe down kitchen cabinets with the vinegar cleaner too.

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answers from Washington DC on

We don't do "allowance" in our house, per se, but my son does keep a chart on the fridge and had to do 5 "jobs" to earn screen-time for the day. At 3 he got checks on his chart and that was it! He didn't cash them in for anything, the check mark WAS the reward. Now at 6 is 100 checks for a Beyblade :)

At 3 his jobs were:
-put away silverware (he loved this)
-pick up toys
-help Mommy (I loved this)


answers from Kansas City on

Our kids picked up their rooms and made their beds at this age although it was so hard for me to not redo the beds, they folded wash clothes and smaller towels, they set the table usually minus the plates, put down napkins, emptied their own little trash basket, and probably forgot a few things. I remember the girls fighting over who got to do the table, etc. Now they say they had to 'work' so hard. :-) All of these things were done with no pay but just to teach helping and being part of the family. Above and beyond that they sometimes got some pay. It would have been so much easier for me to do it myself but they need to learn to help and do things and at age 3 they are so anxious and willing to help. Praise and thanks is the best 'pay' for them. Our 3 year old twin grandsons are now 'helping' me so much it's amazing. They put things away, put their plates on the cabinet when done eating, so many things and I don't even ask them to do it.



answers from Oklahoma City on

Sorting is a good thing at this age. They are just getting cognitively ready for it so it's a developmental milestone.

They can sort the clean silverware into the drawer, they can sort clothes into the laundry hampers (this can be as simple as black goes here, whites go here, etc...or more complicated as they get older).


answers from San Antonio on

yes picking up toys, clearing the table, teeth brushing. But oh this is just a few! As far as clearing table, my 3 yr old helps organize as he cleans - ie "these go in the trash, these go in the sink/counter, lets get a rag and wipe the table....."

getting on jammies,
putting on your own underwear and shorts in the morning (mom will help you with the socks and shirt if you need help),
helping care for pets,
unpacking the silverware from the dishwasher (my 2 yr old helped me with this one! - I took out all knives and sharp objects and then he'd go grab the spoons/forks and throw them in the drawer. I'd organize them later. Your 3 yr old could probably stand on a stool and organize them if you laid them on the counter to dry),
helping to put dirty clothes in the washing machine,
helping to put wet clothes into the dryer,
we no longer have a dishwasher, so my son helps rinse and put items to dry on the drying rack .....

Enjoy your helper while she's willing to help! YAY!
BTW - we don't give him money either. Part of being a family - helping eachother out!



answers from Norfolk on

putting her toys in the toybox, putting her dirty clothes in the laundry basket, putting her dirty dishes in the sink, if you dont have to brush her teeth with her then you can have her remember on her own or if you still do help her maybe she can remind you that it's time to brush and to come help her. she may be able to get her own pj's on and straighten her comforter out on her bed in the mornings.



answers from Denver on

Our kids are responsible for cleaning their dishes from the table every evening, pushing in their chairs, and then washing their hands. They also help set the table too, even if it is just puting the napkins on the table or the silverware.

Other chores, making sure their bathroom is clean (sink isn't gooped up with toothpaste), bringing their trash cans downstairs to dump in the main trash, puting their dirty laundry in the main laundry basket in the hall, and puting away their clean clothes (like their undies, socks - things that if dropped as they are on their way to the dresser can be easily folded back up again). Now that they are older they put all their clothes away.

Good luck.


answers from Chicago on

Mellissa and Doug has a WONDERFUL magnetic chore chart that can take your kids into 7 or 8yr old chores - maybe longer because there are some blank ones.

My son's chores at this age were things like:
clean HIS mess at meal time (including wipe table off)
pick up his toys
helped put away laundry (ie put his socks in a sock basket) and began learning how to put away folded clothes in his dresser. Now at 5 he can put all his folded clothes away including socks/underware.
helped feeding the dogs - now his responsibility
helped with whatever other items that seemed okay "on the fly"



answers from San Francisco on

I agree with Laurie A....No pay just for being a member of the family and helping out. Teaching children about the family expenses is a good thing.

As for the chores, you are right on track. I would also ask her to keep her room clean, teach her to make her bed, put her cloths in the hamper and add on a new chore when you feel she is ready.

At an older age, I do believe in a weekly allowance to cover cost for school lunches, supplies, weekly treats (such as a movie or other social outing).

When you are confident in their ability to buy "some" clothing or shoes, I suggest a clothing allowance.



answers from St. Louis on

absolutely! Get those chores going!

With my daycare kids, by 18months, they are all set with helping. At times, they fight/argue over who gets to help! It amazes adults to see this in action. My fav is when they are arguing over who gets to lay out the naptime bedding! :)

For my sons & the daycare kids, I always followed the thought of basic living skills: picking up after yourself & not waiting for others to do it for you.

Toys are put away before the next round of activity begins.....preventing the end of the day pileup. Each child carries their dishes to the counter. Each child lays out/puts away their bedding. They hang up their coats & put their diaper bags on the table.

With my own kids, I always worked in tandem with them. So, not only did I work with them with their stuff....they were expected (& enjoyed) helping me - whether it was folding laundry, wiping down the table, dusting, vacuuming, etc. By using teamwork, we accomplished soooo much at a much quicker pace!

Throw as many life skills as you can at your child....& watch her blossom! It doesn't matter if the towel isn't folded how you like it....what's important is having a child who feels capable & is willing!

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