Age Appropriate Chores for Kids | Complete Guide

Every parent knows kids should do chores. The real question is what are the age appropriate chores?

Most articles only tell you a list of chores your kids have to do and ignore everything else.

Sure people, like it’s easy to just give them a chore and be happy. 

As a mom of 5 little monsters (some people call kids) I know that’s not true, your kids aren’t robots so why treat them like one. 

In this guide, I will show the most common implications when it comes to your kids doing chores. 

Should we pay kids to do it? What if they simply don’t want to do it?

Questions like that are answered below, 

Read on, let’s get our kids to work! 

Ages 2-3
Ages 4-5
Ages 6-8
Ages 9-12
Ages 13-18
Differences between daily habits and chores
How to divide chores fairly
Should we pay our kids to do chores?
What if they slack and do half-fast chores?
What if children refuse to do chores, what to do?
How not to make Chores boring

Ages 2-3 

Toddlers love to participate in doing things. 

Sometimes their help doesn’t do much but make the effort to keep them involved. 

You are creating positive habits in their little minds. 

Chores list: 

  • Get diapers and wipes
  • Put toys away
  • Organize coùch pillows
  • Help clean spills and dirt
  • Put books back on the bookshelf (light ones)
  • Pick up blankets

Ages 4-5

Preschool kids are very motivated to help. Try to teach them one on one so they pay full attention.

They might be able to do most chores without supervision. 

Chores list: 

  • Wipe down doorknobs
  • Put trash bag in the bin
  • Wipe table after dinner
  • Water plants
  • Feed the pets
  • Wipe furniture 

Ages 6-8

School-age children love to be independent. They might lose a little enthusiasm in doing chores, so remind them of the real purpose of chores. 

Chores list: 

  • Match socks & fold clothes
  • Vacuum house (stairs, kitchen floor, rooms)
  • Carry groceries
  • Bring back garbage cans from the curb
  • Walk the dogs
  • Sweep back/front porch

Ages 9-12 

Kids this age might be sneaky. 

They will get upset if you throw more work at them, 

Show them negative consequences if they don’t do their chore.

Align expectations and be clear on what you want to be done.

Chores List: 

  • Clean bathrooms (wipe, unclog, mop)
  • Get the mail in the mailbox
  • Clean fridge
  • Babysitting a younger sibling.
  • Scrubbing windows or floors
  • Make eggs
  • Bake cookies (or frozen food) 

Ages 13-18 

They should be able to handle any chore in the house (if you teach them right). 

Watch out for their schedule as at this age they are very involved in school and sports.

Chores List: 

  • Mowing the lawn
  • Clean & detail vehicles inside & out
  • Cleaning the garage
  • Washing the car
  • Yardwork
  • Cooking breakfast, making lunch, helping with dinner
  • Make the grocery list during the week 

Differences between daily habits and chores

Be careful not to confuse daily habit activities with chores. For example, making the bed is a habit they should have every day, not a chore. 

Think about what are the habits in your house, for example: 

  • Making their bed
  • Putting away food after they eat
  • Put dirty clothes in the laundry room
  • Brush their teeth every morning and night
  • Keep shoes in the shoe corner 

How to divide chores fairly

This is the most common question I get as a mom. And the simple answer is “nope, it will never be fair for everybody, the world isn’t fair any way”. 

As you divide chores to your kids you will start hearing things like “He got so lucky this chore so much easier than mine” “Why only I get chores, mom?”

We prepared a couple of tips to help you but keep in mind that children will whine no matter what. 

Have your kids take turns in the chores, switch them up weekly or monthly.

Divide into the age-appropriate chores. 

The task you assigned to your 5-year old should be easier than the one you assigned to your 10-year old. 

Should we pay our kids to do chores?

The real purpose of chores is to teach children responsibility and maturity.

Kids do need to learn how to handle money but chores aren’t a great way to do that.

If you trade chores for money kids will forget they have a responsibility to contribute to the house they live in. 

They will lose their sense of community that is created between the family.

If your kiddos insist on getting money for chores, encourage them to go knock around the neighborhood and offer their services (chores) for money. 

What if they slack and do half-fast chores?

“I will do it later mom, hold on!” “After soccer practice, I will get it done, I promise”

As moms we try to believe in them, but how to actually get them to do the chores.

Eliminate all the distractions or what your kids’ value, no phones, no games, no toys until chores are done. 

Note that distractions are personal, find out what they value and take that away until the task is finished.

Make them be efficient with their time, set up time limits for chores before assigning them. For example, it doesn’t take more than 15 minutes to take all the trash out.

If your kids slack doing this, you can question them and have them remember the chore time limit.

Remember you set the example at home, if you leave your work stuff at the dinner table don’t expect your kids to pick up their toys either. 

The best way to teach is by being an example to them. 

What if children refuse to do chores, what to do?

I don’t recommend assigning more chores as punishment. Chores are neither good nor bad, they are just chores and they have to get it done.

The consequences of not doing chores will depend on each child. 

Learn what they value the most, is it watching movies? Playing with toys? Going to a friend’s house?

Whatever it is take it away until your child starts respecting the rules of the house, after all, you’re the Boss!

Remember to keep emotions under control and be rational. You set the tone, if you are angry your kid will be angry as well. If you act to calm your kid eventually will calm down too. 

How not to make Chores boring

See, kids like to play so you have to make it fun, you have to put their imagination to work. 

For example, How did I teach my children to load the dishwasher?

I explained to them that the dishwasher was a car, just like Dad has one. But it only works if all the pieces are in place, all the wheels, all the seats, the trunk, the engine.

In the dishwasher is the same thing. if it is empty (no parts) it won’t go anywhere but if you put the parts together like plates, cups, silverware then the engine can turn it on.

The key here is to make them understand your organization process. 

To make them remember cups only go in the top rack, silverware only goes inside the bin, plates in the bottom rack, etc. 

Of course, the layout of things will depend on you. 

Another game I play is throwing clothes inside the washing machine, just like a basketball game.

You could do the crazy-shake dance when shaking your clothes before they go in the washer. Or maybe sing songs while cleaning the house. 

What to do next? 

I don’t know about your rules at home but our kids here get to work! 

In fact, everybody works at our house, I think it’s the best way to show them nothing it’s given, we have to earn it. 

The little toddlers won’t understand as much and sometimes they will get upset with you. 

Show them that besides work there’s fun too.

I wrote an article about 9 simple science experiments for a child to try at home with you (link) 

I promise those are fun and cost very little to make, check it out! (link)