Should Children Help With Household Chores?

By Candice Coleman
Simple tasks such as wiping counters might be ideal starting chores for children.
Simple tasks such as wiping counters might be ideal starting chores for children.

Weary parents often look forward to the day when children can mow the lawn or do their own laundry. While those tasks might be years away, children as young as a few years can learn to do simple tasks around the house. In the beginning, parents will need to provide more supervision for each task a child undertakes.

Benefits of Doing Chores

The benefits of a child doing housework are numerous to parents, who might feel relieved that someone else is pitching in around the house. Housework can also have benefits for younger children. Independence, confidence and self-esteem can improve because a child is helping his family, according to the National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families. Families might also bond over doing chores together. A housework schedule can help children adapt to routine and responsibility.

Age-appropriate Chores

Toddlers are not yet ready to tackle major housework. Chores such as putting away their toys might be best until the preschool years, when children can handle more complex tasks such as sweeping floors or making beds. During the early elementary school years, children might pack lunches with supervision or help younger siblings get ready for school with a parent's supervision. Give children a few tasks at a time to work on or they might become overwhelmed, according to PBS Parents, a child development site. As kids master one chore, give them a more complex chore to handle.

How Parents Can Help with Chores

Assisting your child with her chores can help her become more successful and independent over time, according to PBS Parents. Giving specific, brief tasks to start such as feeding pets can help your child become comfortable with helping out with housework. Give your children supervision and offer help if you notice they are struggling. Keep your patience and offer new ways to switch up the routine such as rotating chore duties or turning housework into a game. Friendly competitions might be ideal housework motivators for younger family members.

Problems with Chores

Some children will struggle with the responsibility they have been given, doing tasks incorrectly or not doing them altogether. This might be because the child is too young to handle the chore or because parents are not being clear and specific enough about what needs to be completed, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. A child might also avoid a task if he feels he will be criticized for doing it incorrectly. Encourage your child and give compliments even if he falls short. You can say, "You put most of your blocks back into the container. I notice that you missed a few near your bed today. That's OK. I know you will remember to pick up all of the blocks soon."

About the Author

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.