With school, holidays and less time to keep up with household chores, parents everywhere are looking for a few more helping hands to keep “home base” spick and span. Here is a brief overview of developmentally appropriate household chores:
Here is a brief overview of the developmental sequence of household chores:
Chores for a 13 month old:
Your child should begin to imitate you completing household chores. Pushing a pretend vacuum cleaner over the carpeting or helping you wipe up their craft table are excellent examples.
Chores for a 2 year old:
Your child should demonstrate the ability to pick up and put away their toys with verbal reminders (e.g. clean-up your puzzle before lunch).
Chores for a 3 year old:
Your child should be able to carry things without dropping them; dusting, drying dishes, and gardening. They should also be able to wipe up their spills.
Chores for a 4 year old:
Your child should be able to prepare dry cereal and snacks for themselves. They should also be able to help sort laundry before washing.
Chores for a 5 year old:
Your child should be able to put their toys away neatly, make a sandwich, take out the trash, make their bed, put dirty clothes in their hamper, and appropriately answer the telephone.
Chores for a 6 year old:
Your child should be able to help you with simple errands: complete household chores without redoing them, clean the sink, wash dishes with assistance, and cross the street safely.
Chores for a 7-9 year old:
Around 7-9 years of age, your child should begin to cook simple meals, put clean clothes away, hang up their clothes, manage small amounts of money, and use a telephone correctly.
Chores for a 10-12 year old:
Your child should have the ability to cook simple meals with supervision, complete simple household repairs with appropriate tools, begin doing laundry, set the table, wash dishes, and care for a family pet with reminders.
Chores for a 13-14 year old:
Your child should be able to independently do laundry and cook meals. By expecting your child to complete daily chores before moving onto their preferred activities, it is a wonderful way to prepare them for the demands of homework and other activities when they return to school.
Children of all ages can contribute to keeping up with housework. In addition to keeping your house clean, chores are also an excellent way to instill a sense of ownership and responsibility into your child’s daily routine. Your child could be responsible for one or two chores each day, or each week, depending on the time they have available. Create your own system for keeping track of the chores your child has completed (ex. sticker chart or a marble jar). Each time your child completes their chore, reward them with one token (ex. one sticker or one marble). When they reach 10 tokens, reward them with a bigger prize of their choosing (ex. an ice cream treat or a trip to the zoo). Be sure to verbally praise your child with each attempt at completing a chore and assist them as needed, especially while they work to complete a novel duty. Your verbal encouragement paired with the reward system will only help to motivate your child to take on more and more responsibility at home.
Fleming-Castaldy, R. P. (2009). National Occupational Therapy Certification Exam: Review and
Study Guide. Evanston, IL: International Educational Resources, Ltd.