Your teen is old enough to drive a car, work a part-time job, choose his future career -- and even help out around the house. He’ll be heading off to college soon, so now is the time to ensure he has a firm grasp on responsibility and hard work. Use chores as an opportunity to hone his life skills and perfect his ability to organize. Find a few tasks you can do with your teen as well to make the workload feel light and spend some personal time together.
While a white-glove test might be over-the-top, your teen should be responsible for keeping her room in reasonable condition, with no rotting food or moldy socks allowed.
She’s old enough for everyday chores in the kitchen, such as loading and unloading the dishwasher, cleaning out the refrigerator and mopping the floors. She’s probably ready for some cooking responsibilities as well. Assign her particular days each week to prepare dinner, working with her until she’s comfortable on her own. Let her get creative, too, trying new recipes and baking sweet treats once or twice each month for fun.
Teens can wash windows, vacuum and keep the bathtubs sparkling clean. She can wash, dry and iron laundry and help to sort younger siblings’ clothing at the end of each season to stash or pass onto charity.
A multitude of household tasks exist outside of the everyday washing and dusting. Your teen can help care for the lawns in the summer, shovel snow in the winter and work in the gardens in the spring.
He can carry trash to the curb on garbage day, keep the pool clean and even help you paint the backyard fence.
If he has younger siblings, you should be able to go out for date night every now and then, leaving him in charge of warming up meals and settling the kids for bedtime.
Organization and Responsibility
Your young adult is ready for increasingly complex responsibilities. Help her learn to plan and organize by having your teen contribute to preparing and implementing organization systems in the home. If she’s responsible for laundry, have her help devise an efficient sorting system and laundry schedule. If she cooks, let your teen help keep track of the family’s grocery needs.
Involve your teen in household meetings on a biweekly or monthly basis where you can make changes to the organization plan, evaluate the effectiveness of the chore system together, and add or subtract responsibilities as necessary.
Limitations and Considerations
Take your teen's particular circumstances into account when making a chore list. A teen who is juggling schoolwork, a part-time job and extracurricular activities has little free time available for chores around the home without sacrificing his other responsibilities. But a teen who balances his time between schoolwork and video games has plenty of time available to contribute to the family. Regardless of how he spends his time, assign at least a few chores to help build his self-confidence and time-management skills.
Consider his skills, interests and abilities when choosing the most appropriate chores. If he adores his baby brother, babysitting combines responsibility with an activity he enjoys. If he’s a budding chef, cooking duty once or twice a week lets him hone his cooking skills while giving you a break from dinner preparation.