Starting Chores for 7 Year Old

Updated on July 28, 2014
P.G. asks from San Antonio, TX
16 answers

Let's just say I'm kinda clueless in this area. I don't remember chores as a kid. I'm "good enough" at keeping house, but not great. I have a 7 year old son (only child), and he does help around but he doesn't have routine chores.

My hubby also is concerned that if DS has to work at something, he has an "i can't do it" reaction - needs to be reassured. Of course, in the case of yardwork, I'm guessing it's just not an interesting job (LOL). I think it's more of a fear of not doing things right for DS - he's a bit on the autism spectrum, so has that "must be done right" groove, but luckily not too badly. It may be a reason, but I don't want to be an excuse.

What is a good way to get started on the chore thing? A big list? One thing at a time each week?

I'm basically taking care of everything to some extent because hubby's in 2nd year of medical school and that's an overwhelming situation in itself.

Any recommendations for mom to get into a bit of a routine? I just don't want to feel like housework is all I do with my spare time.


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answers from Pittsburgh on

We started small, with him working along side an adult. For example, he puts away silverware and dishes in low cabinets while I put away dishes in the high cabinets. He clears the table while I load the dishwasher. Etc.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

I started my guys with raking the leaves in the fall and shovelling the sidewalk in the winter. Inside the house they are told to clean up the living room or clean up the rec room on an as needed and time permitting basis. I get them to set the table for dinner and clear the dishes after. The only other regular chores they do daily are the cat litter boxes and the toilets.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Washington DC on

Here is some info from WebMD:

That article not only lays out what a child might be able to do at 7, but tips to get things done. If he's very worried about things being "right" then consider what he can do with a lot of room for variation. Like folding clothes. As long as his clothes are reasonably folded and put away, then it's a "good job". Or if the dog gets fed one scoop of food before school, then that's a "good job" and a good way to show responsibility for a thing (my DD likes feeding the cats because she gets their immediate feedback).

I would start small and build up since he's new to chores. Pick 2 or 3 specific things for him to do. Maybe one gets done once a week (trash can to the curb) and one gets done daily (put toys away). Get him a calendar so he knows what days he does what chore(s). IMO, chores are a way to build habits, so once a chore is a habit in a couple of weeks, add another one. I think a big list, especially given his perfection, might be overwhelming.

I am also more of a fan of "this is your task to do all the time" vs willy nilly asking whoever is there to do the dishes. It makes it something the child is responsible for - and can take pride in - vs you having to dole it out daily.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

The best way to get this started is to have all 3 of you sit down and explain to your son, that as a family, you are also a team.

The house belongs to all of you, so you are all responsible for taking care of it and cleaning it.

You now realize he is old enough to be able to have some of his own responsibilities and you know he will do a great job!

Then begin stating what you and dad have always done. List about 5 things each and then mention that there is more, but he is probably aware of the other things you all do.

Then when you begin with his chores, list maybe 1 or 2.
Later to you can add on more.
Tell him you know he will do a good job.
Maybe ask him to get a piece of paper and a pencil, so HE can write them down and post them in his room.
Let him pick where he thinks he needs this list to be posted, so he can remember. Maybe on his bathroom mirror, next to his bedroom door, but let him have this responsibility.

Again both you and dad tell him you know he will do a great job.

You may need to actually show him how to do these chores. Be aware, it may not be perfect in the beginning, but still praise him for remembering and for trying and tell him you know he is going to continue to do a good job.

You and dad thank each other when the 2 of you are doing your chores. Thank you for remembering Friday is trash day! Thank you for going to the store so we can have food to eat. Thank you for washing and drying the clothes, please let me help you fold them. Thank you for helping me fold the clothes.

In the beginning it will seem odd, but in the long run, it will become your normal.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I really liked AV and Laurie's suggestions and the link AV provided. We have a similar list of 'reasonable for the age' chores in our cupboard to glance at.

One thing which we have found works best for our family is to have the chores/tasks listed somewhere. Kiddo has a mix of daily 'self care' chores (making bed, dirty clothes to laundry/clean ones put away, brush teeth, etc) as well as some tasks which do change depending on what we are doing. Our routine is for me to write out what needs to be done each day before he can have tv/media time.I try to make this a fun note:

"Good morning Kiddo.
Today is Sunday. We are going to the pool for Family Swim time!

Make bed nice (HIS best, not mine)
Feed Fishy
Dirty clothes to washing
Clean clothes in dresser
Pick up Lego area so we have clear paths
Wash face
Brush teeth
Pick blueberries with mom

Afternoon: vacuum bathroom "

This doesn't work for everyone, but we seem to get a good result from this; he can cross things off and I can change the daily jobs as our needs dictate.

He also gets a small allowance which is not tied directly to chores--- however, allowance is also not released to him until chores are done for the week, if that makes sense. Any 'above and beyond' jobs are usually paid work; this way he has the opportunity to earn some more money beyond allowance.

One other thing: I have found that I have to sort of 'apprentice' my son into some tasks, like doing dishes. I might do up the antique china stuff I collect as well as the knives and then have him wash while I rinse, just giving support and encouraging him to really look at what he's doing. Teaching our children to do things correctly takes a lot of time and patience, so as everyone else says, PRAISE for effort is important, and then being really clear as to any corrections (oh, look back behind the toilet, do you see that big bunch of hair? Let's get that with the vacuum now.) When it's done, high fives and 'thanks for helping us get this done'.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Start slowly with one or two things that can be accomplished easily.

Start with laundry. Sort the dirty stuff into "lights' and "colors". For clean stuff, start with just matching clean socks - lay them all out on a counter or on the couch so there's lots of room. Show him how to match them and then fold one inside the other. Underwear is easy to fold too. Hold off on shirts for a while until he can feel accomplished with the easier stuff. Compliment him on his work and make comments later about how easy it is to find what he wants when everything is put away in order. Do this for a week or two before you add another chore.

Emptying the dishwasher is another good one. Again, it's matching things, and it doesn't involve getting dirty from dishes covered with food, butter, etc. Sometimes kids on the autism spectrum have such sensory issues that they don't like touching dirty dishes. He can organize the plastic containers, sort silverware into the slots in the silverware organizer in the drawer, stack plates. You can lift them into the cabinet. Make a game of it - not about who works the fastest (that's how stuff gets broken) but about how "many hands make light work."

Follow each completed task with something fun - the point is, now that YOU have help from him, you have more time FOR him. Go read a book or play a game.

Don't start with something overwhelming like "clean your room" - kids don't know how to do that, and they don't know where to start. You can start with "get all the shoes, put them in pairs, and put them in the closet." That's it. Stop there. It's amazing how much better a room looks when just the shoes are put away. That and picking up the dirty laundry. If he can learn that a dirty shirt is only touched once if it goes right into the hamper, but twice if it's thrown on the floor and then picked up to go in the hamper, he will start to learn that it takes half as much time to put stuff away the first time as it does to put it in the wrong place first and then the right place.

I wouldn't do any more than the above for a month or two. Then see what he expresses interest in. Dusting is okay if there aren't a lot of breakables to move out of the way. Don't have him work the bathroom, other than hanging up his towel and grabbing the dirty clothes.

And hubby can take 30 minutes a week to tackle something with you and your son. My husband and I vacuum/dust together so one can help move things out of the way and then put them back in place. It's good for your son to see this going on and for him to see that housework is a family thing, not a Mom thing.

If you want to do a sticker chart to show how much has been accomplished, go ahead. You can get inexpensive charts in teacher supply stores and on websites. Be sure that rewards (after 20 stickers, or 40) are things your son cares about, and don't make them all monetary. A lot of times it's just having time to do something special with you because the work got done.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New London on

As a parenting instructor, I can tell you the comment about being a team is right-on !! A family should all be responsible for the home. Your son is at a great age to get him started.

My child and I would put on some fun music and do chores for 20 minutes. We each had our jobs---and we conquered !

A child that helps around the house has a better sense of belonging and accomplishment. Good for you for starting him w/ a few chores his age !

I have a friend who has boys (12 and 14). She is just starting them w/ chores. She says they look at her and say they'll do them later. My friend has done everything for them up until now. The boys can't understand why they have to do anything...In fact, they are rebelling. She called me the other day for advice. Her kids are not the most compliant. I wish she had started them earlier.

Start him w/ just a few chores.

When I was a kid, I loved to vacuum. I wanted nothing to do with
washing dishes. Get an idea of what he would enjoy doing !

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Start with small, simple tasks:
-swee the walkway to the front door
-rake leaves (not all) on the lawn
etc. This helps build self esteem when the can actually accomplish the

Also, I am a SAHM so I do the majority of the work. Goes w/o saying.
However, kids do not need to add to the mess like a tornado. Eldest
does this, too. It's a matter of keeping after them gently reminding
"please" put your shoes in your room, please don't eat staning up as I
am the one that sweeps, vacuums etc.

You could make a simple list:
-Rake leaves
-Sweep patio
-water mom's plants on patio etc.

Kids get a small allowance for extra things as listed above.
They are always expected to put their shoes away, toys away, coats away, dishes go in sink etc.

Youngest likes to "earn" extra money. I think this teaches working for $
and the value of a dollar (how far it goes).
Allowance goes in piggy bank & later to savings account.
Extra chores are for "right now money" like to go to the Dollar Store for a
toy. Help me dust etc.

The key is to have regular easy expected chores AND some different
easy to achieve chores for extra money.
The first is to help run the household, the latter is to earn extra money.

When I was growing up I had regular chores to help around the house.
Not much but to teach a lesson on how to work together & help around
the house.
Then I had extra chores to earn money.
THEN I started babysitting at 13 to earn my own extra money.
Had a weekend job at 15 that my parents drove me to.
Then I had a part time job at age 16 on. This taught me a work ethic, to
be responsible, the value of a dollar, hard work, how to be a contributing
citizen, teamwork etc.!!!!

The thing to remember is all kids are different. Different motivators for
diff kids. Diff abilities etc.

Make them tailor made.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Helpers get rewards. Kids should help of course but I just think handing them money is.....less reward for younger kiddos.

Help you gather the trash from all the trash cans in the house.

Feed the cats/dogs and help you do the litter box if you have one

Use a sprayed lightly rag and wipe down shiny surfaces on their level while you do the items higher up. Our kiddo learned about family by picking up their pictures to wipe the glass down.

Sort the stuff from the dishwasher that goes onto shelves he can easily reach, after learning to make bubbles with the soap before rinsing them. While you put away the stuff that goes above his head.

Sweep while he holds the dust pan, let him mop. If he doesn't leave it the way you like it you can come back after he goes to bed and swipe over it again. I have a steam mop and my kiddo's love how simple it is.

They can pull their sheets and pillowcases on laundry day. Gather laundry hampers from the various rooms.

After dinner they can clear the table of the food, everyone should probably take their own dishes and rinse them off in the sink with the disposal though. He can wash the table top off, wipe down the chairs, sweep up the food if there is any that dropped.

He can water the plants.

There are many many little things a child can do. As they grow and learn they can take on more.

I suggest that you follow my dear friends strategy. She was a professor of nursing at a local college until she retired and she managed her family and taught them very well how to manage a home.

She made a list in each room and put it in an inconspicuous place. Such as the dining room....Here's a sample of what that list might have had on it.


The dining room is clean when:

The table does not have any dishes or food on it.

The table is has been wiped down and there is no food stuck to it.

The chairs have been wiped down

The floor has been swept and messes mopped up when needed

The bookshelves have been dusted by using a rag with furniture polish on it

The plants have had a little drink of water

The curtains and ceiling does not have cobwebs

The china cabinet doors are closed and the dishes inside are tidy


Your bedroom is clean when:

The bed is made

The floor does not have anything on it and has been swept/vacuumed

The clean clothes are hung up or put in the drawers folded up

Dirty clothes have been put down the laundry chute

The trash is in the trashcan

Toys are in their home on the shelves or in the toy box


Of course your kiddo is old enough to read and can take some responsibility on himself.

I think a small daily chore or two is fine for this age. Then later on he can take on more. At 7 he's probably not mature enough to do a while room by himself. I don't think he should have to clean his entire room every day all by himself, especially if he's a messy kid. That's too hard. He might also stay on track better to have it spelled out completely.

For instance:

1. Pick up all trucks, put them in the toy box

2. Pick up all books and put them on the book shelf standing up

3. Pick up all Lego's and put them in the Lego tub then put the lid on it.

4. Pick up all shoes and put them in the closet sitting side by side with their matched shoe. If you can't find the match put the shoe on top of your dresser so we'll know to look for it.


With girls it's much harder...

Pick up ALL the Barbies, that includes shoes, clothes, hair stuff, accessories, cars, town houses, showers, pools,......and put them in the big tub that takes up half the room then put the lid on

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Re the "I can't do it" reaction: There's nothing wrong with reassuring your son. And always remember to praise effort (not intelligence). Google Carol Dweck if you haven't heard of this principle.

I have no comment on the chores.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tallahassee on

-clean your room first thing in the morning should be the "main" chore, I had to coach my daughter on what to do the first week (BED MAKEUP,CLEAN FLOOR) then that next week she was on her own.

-secondly, teach him to keep the floor in the front room clean, and pillows straightened up on the couch.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lubbock on

I love the way Flylady breaks down chores and phrases things positively. She has a book and a website. She had daily chores for kids to check off. I made a computerized list that I put in a clear sleeve so chores may be checked off. Morning chores might be pulling up the covers on the bed, brushing teeth, getting dressed, and putting out fires for 5 minutes. The child would pick up as much as he could before the timer went off. It can be a fun game and not be overwhelming. Another 5 minutes of putting out fires in the afternoon and right before bed along with a routine for getting ready for bed would truly take care of a lot. Add one easy chore per day such as dusting his bedroom and he would be able to take care of his room. You may add little things as you feel ready.


answers from New York on

He should already be making his bed and keeping his room picked up so the chores should be things that assist the household run. Write the chores he can do on papers and put them in a jar. Each week have him pick out 3 papers and those are his chores for the week. They should be things like setting the table, unloading the dishwasher, sweeping floors, folding towels, cleaning counters in the bathroom, feeding pets, etc. By changing up the chores each week it keeps them from getting boring.



answers from San Francisco on

Having your kids do chores is not necessarily about helping you out with the housework. It is a way of teaching them to be responsible, that they must contribute to the family, how to clean, and gives them the opportunity for priase for a job well done. I think helping mom out is the least of what the family gets from assigning chores.

To get started, one chore at a time. I add a new chore about every 6 mos. to a year. So, when she started getting chores, it was folding and putting away her laundry. 6 mos. later, it was one night of dinner dishes per week; 6 mos after that, it was do her laundry completely (separate, wash, dry, fold and put away). In another couple of months, she will be assigned the front bathroom, and 6 mos after that it will be another night of dishes.



answers from St. Louis on

I have an almost five and almost seven year old that I enlist to help with chores. Mine are more 'as needed' chores than daily or weekly ones. Once my daughter turned 6, she was to help with either setting the table, cleaning the table or making dinner. This is not a daily thing - it's when I ask. I assist both kids in putting away their clothes but they have clean their room with 'direction' from me. They are both really good about this. My son likes to take the trash out so he does that when it's full and likes to bring in the mail. If I ever get a 'why?' I explain to them that we are a family and it would not be fair for mom and dad to do all the work when they eat the food, dirty the clothes, etc!!

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