What Is a Good Age for Children to Start Doing Chores?

Updated on January 10, 2007
A.B. asks from Topeka, KS
16 answers

I was wondering what would be a good age to put your kids to work? My children are 10, 8 and 1. The older ones already have the task of keeping their rooms clean, making sure their laundry is in for laundry day and makeing their beds every morning. My son who is 10 has trash duty. But what is really a good age to start doing other things such as dishes, bathrooms and laundry? I don't want to make them have too much responsibility too soon, but I want to make them responsible at the same time.

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answers from Kansas City on

As soon as they are able. Starting early, like 2 or 3, with age appropriate chores (helping with toy clean up or putting away the silverware when you unload the dishwasher, for example) gets them on the right track of learning to be responsible. If you just start chores out of the blue the day you deem them old enough you may get some resistance.



answers from Kansas City on

hi A. i have 4 children 15 yrs, 6 yrs, 3 yrs, and 2 months the older ones have chores the youngest is to feed the dog but she needs a little help. i would say now because as they get teenagers they tend to not here you. i know. also you can show them how to clean things correctly and what cleaners to use on what. its never to earlyu to tech responibility. hope this helps W..

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answers from Rockford on

hi there...my son is 10. When he was around 6 he used to put away the dishes and take out the garbage everyday. My daughter has been cleaning her room and picking up her toys through out the house since she was 3. After a year of those chores, I switched him to laundry and vacuuming. Now he is old enough to do what I ask without complaint so specific chores are not necessary. Anyway bottom line is start small when they are small and work your way up from there.



answers from Topeka on

I have a 5 year old whos job is to help with laundry, make sure her room is clean, to help with dishes, and to make sure toys are picked up before bed.

My almost 2 yearl old daughter has to make sure her toys are picked up before bed and she loves to help with the laundry.

Your ten your old i think is old enough to help with the dishes and the 10 and the 8 year old can helpo clean the bathrooms.



answers from Oklahoma City on

Well I have a 14, 11, and a 9 and when it came to the dishes, bathroom, etc.... I kinda waited until they could reach the faucet to turn them on and off. That way they wasn't steppin on their tipy toes, LOL. My son 9 yrs. old he has started doing dishes this year. Thats how I did it, I pretty much went according to their height and what they can comprehend. I don't know if that helped or not. It is hard being a mom, wife, teacher, student, employee (full time) etc...... Good Luck!!!!! :o)



answers from Oklahoma City on

I have a two and three year old, they clean there own rooms, clean there own plates from the table and put away there own laundry. It's not done as good as i would do it but they try there best and it helps alot. They enjoy helping don't get me wrong sometimes its a chore trying to get them to clean thier rooms, but usually its because they took all there toys out at once and it's overwelming so i help them. They learn responsiblity and it becomes habit and they do it without thinking or me having to ask them to.



answers from Kansas City on

My thinking on this is to simply "test the water". Trying giving your kids different things to do and see how they do. Just tell them "mom needs more help around the house. Give the 10 yr old. dish washing. Show him how to do it and he should do fine...the 8 yr old could dry them, if that makes it any easier on the other one.
My 1 year old oddly enough helps out. He takes his clothes into his room, and its fun for him to get help throwing them into his hamper.
Good luck with giving more responsibility.



answers from Wichita on

My children are 7, 10 and 11 and we developed a system for doing chores and we choose to give them an allowance for them. There are 3 different sets of chores 1) Sweeping and swiffering the kitchen and laundry room floor as well as cleaning the litter box 2) Swiffering to pick up hair in the living room and dining room and cleaning the dining room table, coffee table and tv 3) Bathroom cleaning the floor, and the sink and toilet.

We started these a year ago and do them 3 nights a week, or try to. They really don't take them very long to do and I was worried that my 7 year old was not old enough for this but all the kids actually do a great job and it takes a huge load off of me as I work full time outside of the home.



answers from Kansas City on

I think early is best. I think having the kids work with you at first is a good way to start them, and later move them to responsibility for certain chores around the house. Even if they are very young they can do things like carry napkins to the table, collect wash clothes and put them in the hamper, or dust a coffee table. Later they can take over a particular chore for the week, like emptying all the small trash cans around the house, or mating all the socks.

My stepkids did NO chores until I showed up, and the experience of imposing chores taught me that earlier is better. The younger two (5 and 7) were much more accepting of the idea than the older boy (10), who used to think chores were a punishment instead of just part of life. The little ones just think of it as an activity, not punishment. For example, they think anything having to do with squirt bottles and wiping is really fun, so they are my squirt-clean brigade. They also help me unload the dishwasher. We keep all the plastic kids' cups, plates and bowls down in a low cabinet where the kids can get at them, and the little one puts those away. The 7 year old puts away all the silverwear and cooking utensiles. Everyone - even the 10 year old - willingly helps set the table. And he and I have a deal - he has very few foods he's willing to eat. I will make him a completely separate meal upon occasion if he shares my pain by doing the extra dishes. Everybody has learned that they put their toys away before they start a new activity, put their dirty clothes in a hamper, etc.

I just think that chores are the side effect of life, and the sooner kids pitch in, the sooner they get used to that idea!



answers from Springfield on

They are old enough to help! Your 8 and 10 year olds would be great at doing dishes, sweeping floors, vacuuming, and helping with the laundry. Your one year old is a little young but I have a 2 year old that likes to dust...we put old socks on her hands and she follows me around and helps dust things...my 6 and 8 year olds have been doing this forever!
Get creative, give them more allowence to do it, or a reward chart...you need all the help you can get!



answers from St. Louis on

Here's a topic I feel passionate about!

Kids get chores as soon as they can understand what you are telling them. :) At my house we don't have regular duties for each child (ages 8,6,4) but they are all expected to help out as my DH and I are working on tasks.

1-yo kids get to help "clean-up" after playing. For most of the year, you'll be helping them the entire time, but by the time they are nearing age two, if they've been cleaning up with you all year, they will be able to do simple tasks without you. For example, "You can put the cars in the box and I will clean the blocks".

2-yo kids will continue the supervised clean-up and can add simple tasks like setting the table. Laundry is also fun for this age. Let them pull out all the socks or underwear for you to put together. They might even be able to put in into piles according to family member! Take time with them to sort by colors too!

3-yo kids can start learning how to fold simple laundry items like wash cloths and hand towels. Maybe pants if they are small. They can also help make the bed and are more likely to be able to clean-up their room or play area unsupervised if you give them specific tasks to tackle. (ie. Just clean up the crayons and markers right now). Setting the table can be really fun at this age. Get some fun placemats!

4-yo kids can make their own beds, wipe down the sink in the bathroom, rinse their dishes (if you have a stool in the kitchen) and by the time they're nearing 5, they can also put their dishes into the dishwasher. Laundry - folding the easy stuff as well as their own clothes (shirts are still difficult). Let them help with the Windex duties. You spray, they help wipe.

5-yo kids can possibly break down tasks and clean their own room completely if they "want to". :) HA HA! You can start teaching them how to vacuum - even though it'll be a few years before they get how to move methodically around the room rather than randomly. Make their own beds and it looks pretty good by now. They can help you sort the laundry before washing as well as pretty much all the folding (except maybe dad's clothes). They can also help with food preparation. Teach them how to make easy things like instant pudding. They can help carry dishes from the table to the sink and help with rinsing and loading the dishwasher.

7-yo They are getting more independant in the kitchen help area, but still need your guidance with how to rinse and load the washer. Let them dust with you. If you use a Swiffer wet mop - they can do that. Over the next couple of years start teaching some basic cooking skills - how to heat up pizza or make toast. Measuring skills.

10-yo+ If they've been helping out for the past couple of years, they can be independent in sorting and loading both the laundry and the dishes in the kitchen.

Trash - that all depends on what's in the trash. Let kids help out with it as young as 5 or 6.

Outdoor work - as soon as they want to start raking and weeding. Mowing - depends on the kid.

Recycle bin - my 6-yo is in charge of it and love the task. I even let him have the money from taking the cans to the can recycling truck. :)



answers from Wichita on

My step daughter is 10 and we started her helping with dishes when she was 8. Now she does them on her own. She helps me out alot with things from picking up the house to taking out the trash. My 4 yr old even helps pick up his play room and bed room. Don't be afraid to start them doing it early. I think it's important for them to take just as much responsibility for their things as we do ours. I'm a stay at home mom and I still make my kids do their chores. It helps me out so much. Hope this helps



answers from Oklahoma City on

Hi A.,

My 9 year old son cleans his room, makes his bed, helps unload the dishwasher - he knows where all the dishes go so he puts away everything that he can reach, helps with dinner things like setting the table & getting paper towels & things. He puts away all of his clean laundry, except for his shirts which I hang for him. He cleans up his bathroom every night after his shower:
Takes dirty clothes to hamper, puts shoes away, closes shower curtain, wipes down counter after brushing teeth & on the weekends he mops it. I sweep, but he likes to mop. I was worried about giving him too much also, but he really came to me asking what he could help with so that's pretty much when it started & I think he was 5 or 6!
He also feeds & waters the dogs everynight when we get home. He also gets rewarded for doing his chores if he gets them all done without complaining about it. I hope this helps.

My 1 year old on the other hand doesn't help out much yet, but when thier 2 they are ready to start putting toys away & books.
my younger one will put stuff on a shelf for just a second when asked, but it won't stay there long so I would wait a little longer for him to do chores.



answers from Springfield on

Household Job Participation Chart

The chart lists common household tasks, the percentage of children involved with the task, and the average age of children at different levels of involvement.

H means the child needs help with the task
R means the child needs to reminding or supervision, and
A means the child does a task as needed without reminding or supervision.

Task / Percent(children involved)
Dress self 99%
Brush Teeth 99%
Bathe self 99%
Pick up belongings 99%
Put dirty clothes away 99%
Hang up clean clothes 97%
Make bed 93%
Tidy room 98%

Wipe spills 93%
Vacuum floors 79%
Clean sink 75%

Take out trash 72%
Care for pet 72%
Do laundry 54%

Set table 93%
Wash dishes 75%
Fix snack 89%
Cook meal 71%

Age & Involvement:

Dress self: Age 2-3(H)
Age 5 (R)
Age 10-1/2 (A)

Brush teeth: Age 3(H)
Age 8-9(R)
Age 10-11 (A)

Bathe self: Age 3 (H)
Age 7 (R)
Age 11-12 (A)

Pick up belongings: Age 4 (H)
Age 8-9 (R)
Age 12 (A)

Pick up dirty clothes: Age 4-5 (H)
Age 8-9 (R)
Age 11-12 (A)

Hang up clean clothes: Age 4-5 (H)
Age 10 (R)
Age 12 (A)

Make bed: Age 4 1/2-5 (H)
Age 10 (R)
Age 11 1/2 (A)

Tidy room: Age 5 (H)
Age 11 1/2 (R)
Age 12-13 (A)

Wipe spills: Age 3 1/2 (H)
Age 9 (R)
Age 10 1/2 (A)

Vacuum Floors: Age 5 1/2 (H)
Age 11 3/4 (A)
Age 12 3/4 (R*)

Clean sink: Age 6 1/2 (H)
Age 11 (A)
Age 12 (R*)

Take out trash: Age 5 1/2 (H)
Age 11 1/2 (A)
Age 12 1/2 (R*)

Care for pet: Age 5 (H)
Age 10(R)
Age 11 1/2 (A)

Do laundry: Age 10 (H)
Age 13 (R-/A) 14yr, 4 mos.

Set table: Age 4 (H)
Age 10-10 1/2 (R)
Age 11 1/2-12 (A)

Wash dishes: Age 6- 6 1/2 (H)
Age 10 1/2 (R)
Age 11 1/2 (A)

Fix snack: Age 4- 4 1/2 (H)
Age 7 1/2 (R)
Age 12 (A)

Cook meal: Age 7 (H)
Age 9-9 1/2 (R)
Age 13 (A)

Data from a study of Washing state families by Elizabeth Crary, 1989

*Children require supervision again after becoming independent

From: Pick Up Your Socks...and other skills growing children need! by Elizabeth Crary Reprinted with permission. (c)1990 Elizabeth Crary

NOTE: Be sure when children are initially learning that you (as the parent)are teaching your child the correct way in detail and then make sure you don't set too high of expectations for standards. Remember that you may need to lower standards of cleaning (on some level) down to your child's age. They may not clean or cook as well as you do. It's a learning process...

Hope this helps.
A. H.



answers from Oklahoma City on

Dishes: My mom started having us wash dishes when we were about 2nd-3rd grade if I remember right. We usually rotated jobs (washing, drying, putting away, etc.) either by night or for a week at a time. When we got a little older and there were 5 kids we each had one night of the week that we were responsible for deciding what we wanted for dinner (we would have to tell her what we wanted for the next week or two while she was making a grocery list), fixing it, and then cleaning up when we were done. If we needed help she would provide it, but tried to leave it mostly up to us. Occasionally we swapped duties, so my sister would fix dinner on my night if I did dishes on her night.

Laundry: I don't remember exactly what age it started, but I think I was late elementary or middle school when my mom gave us each one day of the week to do our laundry. She taught us how to sort it, run it, and we'd been folding and putting it away ourselves for a while already. We started by being responsible for matching socks and folding towels, and then gradually moved on to folding our own clothes as we got more coordinated

Bathrooms (and other rooms): I don't remember having responsibilities for a whole room before about 3rd grade. My mom used several different systems while I was growing up, but the things I learned from her where that the expectations need to be attainable and clearly outlined (she posted a list inside a cabinet door for each room). The more difficult tasks were rotated among the older kids while the simpler tasks were reserved for the younger ones. We were mostly responsible for the day to day tasks to help maintain cleanliness while she took care of the deep cleaning that occasionally came up. We were also responsible for our own belongings, and if those were left places that they didn't belong, it was likely that they would "disappear" for a while.

My daughters are 4 and 1, so I haven't been able to put a lot of this into practice yet. I try to let the 4 year old help me with folding laundry and putting it away, but we have to do it during nap time for the 1 year old or she tries to help too. That's not good. The 4 year old is really good at dusting and I can just hand her a swiffer and she will "clean" everything within reach with it. She also picks up her own toys. Once we get settled into our new house she will also be responsible for making her own bed and picking up her own room. While I'm cleaning if I come across some garbage I'll usually hand it to her and ask her to put it in the garbage can for me. As she shows interest in other jobs I let her help there too. She stirs stuff for me while cooking (not on the stove), puts away the silverware when I do dishes (and plays with the soap in the sink while I'm rinsing things), and likes to spray the cleaners onto surfaces for me. She can help with almost any chore around the house, it's just a matter of letting her try different tasks and see which she can handle and which she can't.

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