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Divide and Conquer Household Chores

Have a family plan for everyday household tasks and you’ll teach your kids a great life lesson.

Make a Chores Chart continued...

You might actually find it easiest to have two charts: one for daily household chores and one for weekly household chores.

Here are two more tips:

  • Be specific with instructions. Pantley says, "'Clean your room' is vague and can be interpreted in any number of ways. Instead, be explicit by saying, 'Put your clothes in the closet, books on the shelf, dishes in the kitchen, and toys in the toy box.'"
  • Ease into chores for children. First, show them how to do the chore step by step. Next, let your child help you do it. Then have your child do the chore as you supervise. Once your child has it mastered, she's ready to go solo.
  • Go easy with reminders and deadlines. You want the chore to get done without you micromanaging it. Pantley recommends the "when/then" technique. For example, say, "When the pets are fed, then you may have your dinner."

 

Allowance for Chores?

Should your child get an allowance for chores? Usually not, say most parenting experts.

Chores are partly about responsibility and partly about learning household tasks. They're not focused on earning money. Yes, kids need to learn how to handle money, but not by doing chores they're supposed to do anyway.

It's especially important to not tie allowances to chores for younger kids, Pantley says. That's because a younger child may be less motivated by money and simply choose to not do them.

There's an exception: For older kids who already know how to be responsible, money can become a nice motivator for doing extra chores above and beyond their usual tasks.

Fay suggests letting them bid on those extra chores and picking the lowest bid.

Age-Appropriate Chores for Children

Your child may be able to do more than you think. "Keep in mind that a child who has mastered a complicated computer game can easily run the dishwasher," Pantley says.

In general, she says, preschoolers can handle one or two simple one-step or two-step jobs. Older children can manage more. Here are her pointers on kids' chores by age:

Chores for children ages 2 to 3

  • Put toys away
  • Fill pet's food dish
  • Put clothes in hamper
  • Wipe up spills
  • Dust
  • Pile books and magazines

Chores for children ages 4 to 5

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Make their bed
  • Empty wastebaskets
  • Bring in mail or newspaper
  • Clear table
  • Pull weeds, if you have a garden
  • Use hand-held vacuum to pick up crumbs
  • Water flowers
  • Unload utensils from dishwasher
  • Wash plastic dishes at sink
  • Fix bowl of cereal

Chores for children ages 6 to 7

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Sort laundry
  • Sweep floors
  • Set and clear table
  • Help make and pack lunch
  • Weed and rake leaves
  • Keep bedroom tidy

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