How Old Should Your Kids Be When You Start Giving Them Chores?

Chores seem like one of those inevitabilities of growing up: washing the dishes, walking the dog, or cleaning up are pretty standard tasks most kids partake in. As a parent, it’s hard to know what a normal amount of chores is, and some parents even wonder if they should assign chores at all.

However, here are the ages where respective chores are proven to be helpful to a child’s development.

Why Are Chores Important?

Dust pan and brush hanging on wall together
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Jan Kopriva
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Jan Kopriva

Chores, when it comes down to it, are basic life tasks. Cleaning, cooking, laundry, maintenance, and managing responsibilities are all skills necessary to being a properly functioning and independent adult.

What Happens Without Chores?

student in dorm folds clothes
Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus / Getty Images

Remember what it was like to go to have a roommate or housemate who didn’t know how to do basic things like do laundry, cook their own meals, or really take care of themselves? That’s the result of never really having chores.

Of Course, Kids Don’t Hop Out Of The Womb Skilled

newborn baby
Photo Credit: Myrna M. Suarez / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Myrna M. Suarez / Getty Images

Naturally, you can’t expect a toddler to know how to work a washing machine or cook breakfast, so it’s necessary to introduce chores to your child’s routine in age-appropriate increments that also help them develop basic thinking skills.

Ages 2–5: Sequence Learning

toddler playing with colored blocks
Photo Credit: H. Armstrong Roberts / ClassicStock / Getty Images
Photo Credit: H. Armstrong Roberts / ClassicStock / Getty Images

The first chores a child should learn have to do with orders of sequences. The easiest domestic tasks will teach them how to break bigger projects down into smaller steps in the future, which will help with their problem-solving approaches in the future.

Putting Clothes Into A Laundry Hamper Is A Good Starting Point

closet that is purposely small with laundry hamper
Photo Credit: Andrew Hensler for The Washington Post via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Andrew Hensler for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Teaching kids to use a laundry hamper for their dirty clothes has the clear sequence of clothes being clean, getting dirty through wear, and then they need to be washed. Putting them in the hamper is the first step toward them being wearable again, reinforcing the cyclical nature of the task.

There Are Many Different Chores That Reinforce The Same Idea

A woman shows a child how to wash his hands with an antibacterial hand gel
Photo Credit: MYCHELE DANIAU / AFP via Getty Images
Photo Credit: MYCHELE DANIAU / AFP via Getty Images

Other good chores for children at this stage involve cleaning up their toys after playing, making their beds in the morning, and cleaning up plates after eating a meal.

Ages 6–7: Working As A Team

mom and son cooking, baby sits on counter
Photo Credit: STORMI GREENER / Star Tribune via Getty Images
Photo Credit: STORMI GREENER / Star Tribune via Getty Images

There’s no doubting that teaching your child to work collaboratively with others is an important skill—it shapes their abilities in extracurricular, academic, and professional spaces in the future—and it’s vital to increasing their willingness to help others around them.

Get Your Child To Pitch In

Girl helping with chores by doing dishes
Photo Credit: Education Images / Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Education Images / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

At age 6–7, children are more capable of helping, so adding chores that require group work is a good next step. For example, while baking, have your child help stir the batter.

There Are Many Ways To Foster Teamwork

Dog eating his food from his bowl next to small boy
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Photo Credit: SuperpowerDogs / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Other chores that are effective at this age are helping to set the dinner table, assisting in washing/drying dishes after use, helping carry groceries in, and helping to care for a family pet by being in charge of their feeding schedule.

Ages 8–9: Putting Things Away In The Right Place

books on shelf organized by color
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Jansen Yang
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Jansen Yang

This is a good time to help foster organizational skills by teaching kids that there is a correct place for everything. As your child grows older, they’ll have to learn to organize and manage their own stuff.

Chores Should Be Focused On Creating Order

person carrying stack of folded sweaters
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Dan Gold
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Dan Gold

A great chore at this age is helping to fold and put away laundry. Naturally, to make it easier to find clothing items and keep them from crumpling, you have to put things away in specific places.

Make It A Habit To Organize Spaces

a well-organized bedroom
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Sven Brandsma
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Sven Brandsma

Other chores for this type of organizational development involve helping to load and unload the dishwasher or having them take care of cleaning their own rooms. These tasks help them develop consistent habits for organization.

Ages 10–11: Tasks That Make Them More Self-Reliant

person making checklist
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Glenn Carstens Peters
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Glenn Carstens Peters

Once again, it’s time for them to take on more responsibility with more complex tasks that require forethought. These chores, which involve multiple steps and planning, help them develop time management and problem-solving skills.

Make Them Responsible For Something Of Their Own

dad and his son, 10, with food items of Ryan's packed lunch
Photo Credit: Gareth Fuller – PA Images / PA Images via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Gareth Fuller – PA Images / PA Images via Getty Images

At this stage, you should assign chores that force your child to manage themselves. For example, task your child with packing their lunch for school. This makes them consider what’s available to them, makes them do meal preparation the day before, and they have to make sure they remember their meal in the morning.

Add Other Timely Tasks To Their Schedule

children help with vacuuming with supervision of dad
Photo Credit: Chris Ware / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Chris Ware / Getty Images

Other tasks that help them understand time management and planning are taking the trash out, checking the mailbox on a regular basis, vacuuming and dusting areas, and making breakfast in the morning.

Ages 12–15: Learning To Prioritize

weekly planner open on ipad
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Jess Bailey
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Jess Bailey

Naturally, at this point in their life, children will have multiple things on their plates, such as homework, extracurriculars, and friendships. Add chores that they have the flexibility to do at a time of their choosing so they’re forced to prioritize their responsibilities accordingly.

Self-Discipline Comes From Prioritization

boy mowing the lawn
Photo Credit: William Gottlieb/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images
Photo Credit: William Gottlieb/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Give your teen age-appropriate tasks with the freedom to do them at some point during a given time frame. For example, you could make it clear that they have to mow the lawn by the end of the week and let them figure out when they’ll get it done.

It’s Good For Their Self-Esteem

teens do laundry in laundromat
Photo Credit: PAU BARRENA / AFP via Getty Images
Photo Credit: PAU BARRENA / AFP via Getty Images

Due to the relaxed parameters around when they have to do the task, children develop positive self-esteem due to feeling trusted and responsible. Other tasks to assign might include doing their own laundry, washing the car, cleaning the bathroom, or ironing clothing items.

Age 16+: Tasks To Prepare Them For Adult Life

a teenage girl watches a series using laptop on the bed in her room
Photo Credit: Carlos Alvarez / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Carlos Alvarez / Getty Images

Realistically, parents need to prepare their child to be moderately self-sufficient for when they move out in their late teens or early 20s, so this time is crucial for making sure they can truly care for themselves in the world.

They Need To Be Responsible In Many Ways

teenager cooking on stovetop
Photo Credit: Roberto Machado Noa / LightRocket via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Roberto Machado Noa / LightRocket via Getty Images

At this time, getting your child to take care of regular tasks like grocery shopping for healthy foods while conscious of prices, deep-cleaning household products, and cooking meals for themselves and the family are all good tasks to get them to do every once in a while.

Give Them The Necessary Knowledge About The World

Visa credit card and Mastercard debit cards
Photo Credit: Karol Serewis / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Karol Serewis / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

At this age, it’s also important that you teach them long-term life skills and habits like budgeting and paying off credit card bills, sending professional emails, and mitigating conflicts with customer service or other public entities. These skills are highly nuanced and not always intuitive, but they are necessary for adult life.

In The End, They’ll Thank You

A woman kissing her mother on the cheek
Photo Credit: Roberto Salomone / Mondadori via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Roberto Salomone / Mondadori via Getty Images

Of course, no child will be happy that they have to manage a bunch of different household responsibilities or that, at times, you won’t let them do things they enjoy until they complete chores, but in the long run, they’ll be happy that you helped them become independent adults.