Chores for a 5 Year Old and 3 Year Old? to Understand the Concept of "Pitch In"

Updated on October 31, 2012
K.M. asks from Los Gatos, CA
17 answers


I'm interested to see what other moms are having their children involved in chores? I have a 5 year old daughter and 3 year old son. My daughter has been asking if she can have her own "chores", they already help when we cook together, sometimes clean up the playroom, etc but nothing that they can see on a chart and "mark". They saw a chore chart at a friends house and thought it was fun (also kid told them they get allowance), I'm all for pitching in on help.
What are some basic chores that you have your kids responsible for? We have a backyard and some plants, we have no pets, I'm the cook, cleaning lady, chauffeur, etc so help is always appreciated :) and should I offer them rewards for doing the chart? What kind of rewards?

Thanks for any ideas!

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answers from Honolulu on

Anything, can be used to help a child learn to help... the family.
My kids were younger than 5 and 3 when I would teach them to help etc.
This is the same as pitching in.
I have never used or offered them charts or rewards for my kids, in order to teach them how to "help."
What I taught them is: they are a PART of a family, and we all live in a house... and therefore, we take care of each other and of the house we live in because, that is what helping is and what being a part of a family is.

My kids have been helping with things since Toddlers.
It needs to be age appropriate.
And for me at least, it can vary. Not the same thing all the time. Because... I want to also teach my kids that, MANY times, daily life means helping with things that was not necessarily "scheduled" and that just because another child "usually" does it, it does not mean that someone else doesn't have to help with that same thing. I mean, what if a child is sick or not feeling well or tired on any given day? Then what? FAMILY members, still need to help. We are part of a TEAM. We have each others back etc.
So, if I need help with something and it is spontaneous... my kids won't tell me "But that isn't my job...."

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

My 6yo helps take out the garbage cans and bring them back in the next day. He also has to empty the silverware in the dishwasher, clean up his own toys, put his clothes in the laundry, hang up his towel after his bath, clean up under his chair at the eating table, put his dishes in the sink/garbage after he's done, and the list goes on.

The same basically goes for my 3yo daughter, except her dishwasher chore is the kid bowls.

The only reward I offer for these basic chores is a thank you and a smile because I think responsibility is a HUGE thing to teach and isn't being taught enough these days.

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answers from Redding on

Kids this age can help with so many things.

Folding laundry and putting it away. Towels and wash rags are super easy to fold. Underwear and folding their own socks and putting them away is also easy.

Separating recyclables. Have a bin for plastic and paper.

Watering and weeding plants. Little kids love refillable water spout cans. Just be sure to teach them the difference between weeds, grass, and plant sprouts. This time of year is a perfect time to let them have a spot in the yard for planting pumpkin seeds. They basically grow on accident so just a little dirt and some water and you'll have pumpkins next year.

Let them make their own beds. Give them a sticker for keeping their shoes neat and getting their clothes ready for the next day.

Even at 5 and 3, my kids loved showers. I gave them a cup and a scrubby pad and they would have fun "washing" the shower. It didn't have to be perfect, but as they got older, it just became a habit and the shower was always rinsed out. I gave them a squeegee and let them have at it.

Setting and clearing the table is another great chore.

I never had a sticker chart. My kids just always loved to help. My son was fascinated with the vacuum. He had his own little apron, broom, and dust pan. He loved loading the dishwasher. His sister was older, so she would unload after I'd put the sharp items away.

Kids really do love to help and if yours are inspired by a chart, ask them what kinds of things they would like to do to help. Go from there.

My son is now 17 and a fabulous cook. He can literally cook or bake anything due to the years I allowed him to help in the kitchen. Being raised by a single mom, he knows how to sew, work on auto engines, do his own laundry. I think chores help kids know how to function within a family and beyond.

I, personally, didn't offer rewards, but I had plenty of friends who would hire my kids for their responsibility and work ethic. They paid them for their efforts.

When it came to our home, it was just a matter of us all chipping in and leaving us more time for fun things. I always worked full time, so everything we could get done as a team left us more time to do other stuff.

When my daughter hit her teen years, she thought helping at home sucked. But, my son....he never strayed off the path of helping being the best for everyone. He, to this day, never does it for a reward.

All kids are different and whatever you can find that works for your kids....
Go for it!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

When they were little their job was to take the laundry out of the washing machine and put it in the dryer (with the front loader). Before the front loader I took the laundry out of the top load washer and handed it to them to put in the dryer. I also had them set the table for dinner. I handed them everything they needed in the kitchen and they took it to the dining room and put it on the table. They were supposed to pick up after themselves, putting their own laundry in the hamper and putting toys away, and taking their dishes to the kitchen after they eat. When they were about five I started having them bus tables at church dinners, and now at 7 and 10 they are really good at bussing tables, and they enjoy doing it. My ten year old is responsible for feeding the cats and the seven year old feeds the fish. We do not have a chore chart, although I have a list of their chores posted. I do not reward them for chores, as chores are just part of running the household (they do get an extra treat for bussing tables at church functions). They get a small allowance, but that isn't tied to chores in any way.
I forgot about raking and shovelling. When they were little they had their own little plastic shovels and rakes, and helped me whenever I had to rake leaves or shovel snow. They were also responsible for bagging the leaves. Now they can shovel the sidewalk themselves, and rake the yard themselves.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Omaha on

The best way to teach kids to help is to include them and model it for them. If they see you do it, they will do it, but give them a chance to do it. Sometimes I have to stop myself from doing something just to get it done quickly or neatly, when kids need to be given the time to do it for themselves even if it takes longer than it would take you or their work isn't as neat as you would have done it.
My kids love to dust, help with laundry by putting dirty clothes in the hamper, in the washer or taking clean clothes out of dryer and helping to put folded clothes away. They help set the table by putting silverware, napkins and cups on the table and filling the cups with ice. They help bring plates to the sink and put trash in the trash can.
They help sort toys and put them away. They try to help making beds and putting pillows in their place. They like to rake leaves and sweep. They help feed and care for their grandma's dogs and assist taking her trash out to the big trash bin (she lives in an apartment).
My kids made a chore chart at church one day that we taped to their bedroom doors. They liked getting stickers for the various items. It is such a great visual for instant gratification of an accomplishment. Such things on it were some items mentioned above, brushing teeth and memorizing the weekly bible verse. I don't really give them a weekly allowance at this point though. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

The woman who I was a nanny for had chores down to a science. I loved the information I got from her.

She had 7 children and there were big kids, over 8 years old, and little kids, under age 8. The big kids got 1 area each month. They had 1 little kid that was their helper. Their job was to teach the little kid how to be a helper and eventually know how to do that room by themselves.

Say the big kid had the dining room. It was a large room with a table and chairs that, with the leaves and extensions, could seat 12 people. The job list inside the china cabinet was very detailed. It went something like this. It's been a long time so I am going by memories.

The dining room is clean when:

The book shelves have been dusted
Each plant has had a little drink
The table has been wiped clean
The chairs do not have food on them anywhere
The floor has been swept and it has been mopped if needed

The bathroom (they had 4) is clean when:

The toilet has been scrubbed with cleaner
The tub has been cleaned and rinsed
The sink/vanity area has been wiped down and everything is tidy
The dirty clothes have been put down the laundry chute
The floor has been swept and has been mopped if needed

The laundry has been done when:

All laundry has been washed and is completely dry accoring to directions
The clothes have been hung, folded, and is put away in various rooms
Any ironing has been put on the ironing board
The washer and dryer are both empty

Each room had a list like this posted somewhere in the room out of sight so that the child in charge of that room had clear specific instructions that they could read and go do, then come back and get the next thing on the list then go do that.

Let's say a big kid had the kitchen. The little kid would do things like put the dishes away out of the dishwasher off the bottom rack, they'd do the silverware. Sorting the silverware into each area is a building block to critical thinking, it teacher them to recognize an item, decide what it is, where it goes, which way to put it in,'s a great tool for teaching.

The little kid would also help by cleaning the lower shelves of the fridge, maybe holding the dust pan while the big kid managed the broom, they would have the parts of a chore they could do at their age.

Teaching your child to be a helper then eventually moving into them having that area as their own responsibility is an awesome way to teach them how to manage their own home when they become adults.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Our kids did chores like set the table or wipe the table off after it was cleared, folding towels or wash cloths, emptying small trash cans, making beds, dusting, maybe running the vacuum sweeper and you will think of so many more. They love it when they are this age so it's the time to start and then it will be easier to continue on as a pattern for life.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Put the things that they're already doing on a chore chart. This is a good way to get them started on getting recognition for doing chores.

My daughter's chart for her children included brushing their teeth. You can ask that they put away their toys, put their clothes in the dirty clothes bin, put their shoes away. She didn't give them an allowance at that age. She relied more on verbal praise each time they were able to check off a chore.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

Responding to this, I'm going to have to admit something. I have my kids do the chores I hate.

For some reason, I hate cleaning out the bathroom sink after everyone has used it in the morning. My 8 year old daughter is the last one to brush her teeth, it's her job to grab a flushable wipe and wipe down the handles, sink and countertop.

I also hate stocking the toilet paper. Don't ask why, it just rubs me the wrong way. My 5 year old son makes sure it gets from the drawer to each bathroom so there are always plenty of rolls.

I hate putting away the dishes from the dishwasher. My daughter puts away the glasses (uses a little stool) and the 5 year old puts away the silverware (I do the knives).

I also hate sorting the recycling. My son can do that easily, just takes the empty milk jugs from under the kitchen sink to the bin outside.

Other than that, they clean up after themselves, their rooms, their toys, the playroom. They clear the table. They set the table. They feed the dog, they give her clean water. Most of their chores are things to help me with. They help me walk the dog. They help put away laundry, etc. None of what we do is from a chart. I guess if you were to make one, you'd have to draw out pictures for the 3 year old, but that shouldn't be too difficult.

Now if I could only get them to do ALL of the laundry. =)

Good luck.



answers from San Francisco on

We don't have a chore chart but from time to time, I give my 4-year old daughter really 'nice' stickers to put in her 'good manners' book (or you can make a chore sticker book/chart too) for these efforts:

1. Emptying the dryer
2. Hanging damp clothes on the folding drying rack
3. Folding underwear / pants, sorting socks
4. Emptying the utensil basket from the dishwasher
5. Clearing the table / rinsing items before we load into the dishwasher (have a stool ready at the sink!)
6. Dusting the furniture

I try not to put too much emphasis on a reward in exchange for doing chores as I feel that this is just part of life in the family home. Everyone helps out.

Good luck and have fun!


answers from Rochester on

5 years old...make their bed (and you can sneak in later and straighten it up if you like), dry safe dishes (plastic cups, spoons, etc), water flowers, put the toys away, dust.

3 years old...honestly, their chores ought to consist of things they need to learn to do for themselves, such as getting dressed, sharing, etc, as well as picking up toys.

My 7 year old has to make her bed, put her dirty clothes in the hamper, and pick up after herself.

My 2 year old has to do NOTHING except put on her own shoes.

:) Hope that helps!



answers from Chicago on

My kids are about the same age. They feed the dog and let her out, put away the silverware from the dishwasher and the plastic dishes/cups, pick up their shoes and coats, pick up their toys at the end of the day, water the plants, bring their plates to the counter after a meal, help put away laundry.... For our rewards I went to the dollar store and filled a bucket with stuff and they can choose something from there. We usually let them choose a reward after they have so many stickers so they know, the more they help out the sooner they'll get a reward!



answers from Salinas on

My four year old makes her bed every morning, cleans up her room, puts some of her dishes in the dishwasher on a daily basis. I also let her help me clean by vacuuming parts of the house, dusting and putting clothes into the washer and dryer. I do not give rewards or use a chart.



answers from Appleton on

They are already doing some chores. They can put away their clean clothes, take dishes to the sink, hang up jackets and put away boots and shoes.
The most important thing is to praise them for doing something. As they grow up you can teach them to do more.



answers from Chicago on

I have an almost 3 and 4.5 year old. Our chores are kept simple: clear your own place setting, wash up and brush hair and teeth after meals, pick up any mess you have made, pick up the floor in your room before bed.

I may start teaching my oldest to dust at some point in the near future, and I keep meaning to buy a small vacuum my youngest can use. They also clean up crumbs after eating, but not always, as I frequently just pull out the vacuum.

We don't do rewards in this house.



answers from Sacramento on

My kids are 6 and 4. Part of their chores are to get ready in the morning by themselves: brush teeth, change and put away clothes, comb hair and make their beds. I have a check off chart with pictures for this.
They are also responsible for taking their plates to the sink after meals and cleaning up the playroom or their room when it gets messy. At the end of the week, I let them pick a $1 store prize if they have done all their chores.
I think I may move to money for my oldest so she can begin to see the concept of saving etc.


answers from Dallas on

I agree with what others have posted, but just have a couple of things to add.

My youngest is 8, and for years he has been cleaning the intake vents that are near the ground. He also does a great job cleaning baseboards throughout the house. I love it!

My 14yo cleans all of the wooden blinds throughout the house. That is probably tough for your kids since they are younger, but keep it in mind for when they are older. It's fabulous!

At their ages now, they help me with just about everything, but even at 5 (and 3) they could do a ton. I'm like many of the others who posted; we don't pay an allowance, feeling that family works together to keep the house clean. We do pay them for doing extra chores (like raking pig poop - we live on a farm) so that they can learn to manage money, but they don't get a regular allowance. My oldest also works at odd jobs throughout the year. He just finished working weekends at the State Fair of Texas making $10 an hour, so he does have quite a bit of money to manage.

Good for you for involving your children in helping around the house. Teach them young, and they will learn early that it takes everyone working together for a home to run smoothly. :)

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