The Chores Debate: Should Your Children Be Pitching In?

While the topic of chores may seem like an fairly simple aspect of family life to put into play, there’s a lot of convoluted information involving the what, how and why: What chores should my child do? How much allowance should I pay them? Why are chores important?

And, of course, there’s the question of whether or not you should have your child do chores.

Why is that even a question?

I know I’ve said it and you’ve probably heard it before: “Children didn’t ask to be born. Let them be kids.”

Childhood is such a fleeting moment in a human being’s life that it seems almost wrong to waste it on not only having your children do chores but exerting your time and energy to get your children to do chores.

If you believe implementing chores is a matter of teaching your children responsibility, there are other ways you can do so – while your child gets to continue the joys of play and fun.

So I shouldn’t get my kid to do chores?

No, they definitely should do chores.

Gasp! The hypocrisy!

Before you write me off, hear me out. When it comes to chores, and most aspects of our lives, balance is key. There are so many important life skills a child can learn through chores that they will only be to their benefit when they reach adulthood. The key is working chores into a regular family routine without overwhelming your little ones with household responsibilities.

What can chores teach my child?

So many things! Even simple chores such as cleaning up after playtime or setting the table before dinner can instill a strong sense of responsibility and independence in your child.

The goal of chores should be to provide our children with life skills necessary to take care of themselves when they are eventually out on their own. As almost an added bonus, your child will learn organizational skills as well as develop self-confidence from the sense of accomplishment when a task is complete.

What chores are appropriate for my child’s age?

kid-2586010_960_720As I mentioned before, kids should be allowed to be kids, so the younger the child, the less they should be expected to do. Between the ages of 2 and 3, children should only be expected to take care of their own things: put away toys, put garbage in the trash can, put dirty clothes in the hamper and put away clean clothes.

However, never discourage your child from helping with your household tasks if they offer or show an interest!

Your 4 to 6 year old child should maintain responsibility for their own things plus a few more cleaning tasks. They can now be responsible for sweeping their floor and making their bed. Again, the focus being on taking care of their own stuff while still encouraging any interest they have in other chores.

By the ages of 7 to 11, your child can be expected to help with broader chores such as meal prep, table setting, dish washing and laundry.

From the age of 12 and onward, your child’s chore-doing should seem more like a partnership, where their contribution benefits not only them but the whole family. Have your child help clean the bathroom, prepare simple meals and take out the trash.

Should I give my child an allowance?

Here’s where you may run into a lot of yay/nay arguments when it comes to allowance paying. Some will tell you “no” because children need to learn the value of responsibility. Others will say “yes” because children need to learn the value of money.

Why not both?

Designate an allowance for chores that are not expected on them such as washing the windows or cleaning out the car. Maintain the chores mentioned above as expectations but offer allowance for additional tasks beyond their realm of responsibility.

So should my child be pitching in?

Absolutely! Parenting is a hard and exhausting role and any help from your little ones is appreciated.

Just make sure you let them know that!

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