Age-Appropriate Chores: How to Help Kids Be Responsible

Dirty dishes. Messy bedrooms. Toys on the living room floor. Some days, there just isn't a good way to avoid the chore wars. But there is always tomorrow, and you can be proactive. Ask yourself, What chores are important for my children to learn, and what are they capable of doing?

Before finding the answer, recognize the difference between a chore (an ongoing task that benefits the household) and a life skill (an activity that children should know how to do before living on their own, such as managing a checking account). The following list is not a life-skills checklist. It is a list of age-appropriate chores.

As you view it, remember that every child matures at a different pace. Adjust this chart to what you know about your children's skills and talents, and realize that no child should do all of the chores listed below every day. (And if you want to set the scene for your kids, have them listen to Signed, Sealed and Committed, an Adventures in Odyssey album in which some kids threaten to go on a chore strike. Or have them read about some of the chores that kids did in Jericho within the story "Trapped!" in Bible Kidventures: Stories of Danger and Courage.)

The following list is only meant as a guide and reflects the types of chores that many children in specific age ranges are capable of completing. And we've included some links from some of these chores that offer hands-on, practical ways to train your children to do them. Hopefully, these general guidelines may help your children succeed in personal and family responsibility: 

Ages 2 and 3

Personal chores

Family chores

Ages 4 and 5

Note: This age can be trained to use a family chore chart. 

Personal chores

Family chores

Ages 6 and 7

Note: This age can be supervised to use a family chore chart.

Personal chores

  • Make their bed every day
  • Brush teeth
  • Comb hair
  • Choose the day's outfit and get dressed
  • Write thank you notes with supervision

Family chores

Ages 8 to 11

Note: This age benefits from using a family chore chart.

Personal chores

Family chores

  • Wash dishes
  • Wash the family car with supervision
  • Prepare a few easy meals on their own
  • Clean the bathroom with supervision
  • Rake leaves
  • Learn to use the washer and dryer
  • Put all laundry away with supervision
  • Take the trash can to the curb for pick up
  • Test smoke alarms once a month with supervision
  • Screen phone calls using caller ID and answer when appropriate

Ages 12 and 13

Personal chores

  • Take care of personal hygiene, belongings and homework
  • Write invitations and thank you notes
  • Set their alarm clock
  • Maintain personal items, such as recharging batteries
  • Change bed sheets
  • Keep their rooms tidy and do a biannual deep cleaning

Family chores

  • Change light bulbs
  • Change the vacuum bag
  • Dust, vacuum, clean bathrooms and do dishes
  • Clean mirrors
  • Mow the lawn with supervision
  • Baby sit (in most states)
  • Prepare an occasional family meal

Ages 14 and 15

Personal chores

  • Responsible for all personal chores for ages 12 and 13
  • Responsible for library card and books

Family chores

  • Do assigned housework without prompting
  • Do yard work as needed
  • Baby sit
  • Prepare food — from making a grocery list and buying the items (with supervision) to serving a meal — occasionally
  • Wash windows with supervision

Ages 16 to 18

Personal chores

  • Responsible for all personal chores for ages 14 and 15
  • Responsible to earn spending money
  • Responsible for purchasing their own clothes
  • Responsible for maintaining any car they drive (e.g., gas, oil changes, tire pressure, etc.)

Family chores

  • Do housework as needed
  • Do yard work as needed
  • Prepare family meals — from grocery list to serving it — as needed
  • Deep cleaning of household appliances, such as defrosting the freezer, as needed

Avoid the Chore Wars Download

Your family can win.  There is a different way to avoid the chore wars.  In this valuable resource, you will find age appropriate chore checklists; encouragement for handling different personalities in your home; and answers to commonly asked questions.

Download Today!

Would you like help creating a chore chart? Download these PDFs and get started:

Chore Chart for Youngsters

 Kids Chore Chart

 

Chore Chart for Tweens

 

 

Sheila Seifert, M.A., is the editorial director of parenting content for Focus on the Family magazine and FocusOnTheFamily.com and the founder of Simple Literature. Her most recent coauthored book is Bible Kidventures: Stories of Danger and Courage.

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