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Kid Responsibilities: Making Chores Work

Child Responsibilities at Home

Have you considered assigning kid responsibilities to the little ones in your home?  These little guys often get overlooked when it comes to taking care of the house simply because of their size – but not for long!  There are child-sized responsibilities waiting for your son or daughter! I urge you to think again to find ways to include them. 

Kids as young as 2-years-old are capable of taking care of their space, so take advantage and add them to the kids chores list!

Importance of Chores

We feel chores are important, because they show the child their role in the family.  Everyone has a job to do to make the household work.  These kid responsibilities may vary in size, but they do exist!

It is not mommy or daddy’s job to get all of the dishes washed and all of the laundry done and all of the meals prepared and all of the floors mopped.  We all have to work together to make sure our house runs smoothly, because we all live here together. 

We each play a part as contributing members of the family. 

Chores establish the child as helpful and beneficial very early on: They are the responsibility of a child.  So, get them started when they’re young!  The preschooler who assists with the dishes can feel accomplished and capable before kindergarten – but also has gained a lifelong skill they’ll use as they grow! 

While kids are still little, chores can have a profound effect on how a child develops in and out of the home.  An article posted by Very Well Family continues the line of discussion believing that children should be given chores to build both self-esteem and responsibility.

Examples of Chores for Kids by Age (6 and Under):

  • Put clothes in hamper
  • Make bed
  • Brush teeth
  • Brush hair
  • Get dressed
  • Fold laundry
  • Clean up playroom
  • Clean bedroom
  • Set the table
  • Clear the table
  • Empty dishwasher
  • Empty wastebaskets
  • Sweep floors
  • Mop floors
  • Help put away groceries
  • Take out garbage
  • Take out recycling
  • Water plants and flowers
  • Feed pets
  • Pick up dog poop
  • Clean litter box
  • Pull weeds
  • Open blinds

However you decide to establish the kid responsibilities in your home, there are a few key guidelines to follow.

Setting Expectations

When settling on the proper kids chores list for your home, set the expectation right at the beginning.  Let the children know exactly what it is that you want them to do – and how you expect it to be done.

In our household, my son’s main responsibility is feeding the dog.  This task has a few steps:

  • First, he must check the dog’s food bowl.
  • Then, he has to go to the bin of dog food.
  • Finally, he uses the cup in the bin to fill up the dog bowl.
  • (Bonus step:  If he overfills the bowl, he must clean up the pieces that fall on the floor.)

Before he was able to successfully feed the dog, we had to show him how it was done. 

We spent a LOT of time figuring out the RIGHT-sized portion for the dog to eat. 

A lot of time.

But eventually, he figured it out!

My son and his dog feeding the puppy
A boy and his dog. © Zaitography

And now, I don’t have to worry about feeding the pup.  That is my child’s responsibility at home! But that is only because we spent the time showing him exactly how to open the food bin and how to walk over the cup of food. 

Even though those two skills seem incredibly simple to us, my 3-year-old needed to learn the very basics in order to succeed.

Assume your child needs to start from scratch to learn their kid responsibilities. Instead of, “Clean your playroom”, ask them to “Put your stuffed animals in this bin”. Exact directions will help your son or daughter to be successful with the task from the beginning.

Now that my son has mastered the skills that are necessary for his task, he is the official dog feeder of the house.

So long as you take the time to effectively set strong expectations and to set them well, your child will understand how to do their work correctly.

Depending on the needs in your home, there are many options for the responsibility of a child!

We tend to categorize the work to be done into two main groups:

 Personal Responsibilities

These tasks are specific to that child – and only that child.  This includes tidying up their bedroom, putting their laundry in the hamper, or making the bed. 

Your child is more than likely already responsible for these tasks, but maybe not consistently.  So, to help make the job part of their daily routine, choose one item and start there. 

Say, from this point forward, your child is now responsible for making their bed each day.  (And maybe, for a 4-year-old, that looks like quickly fixing up a comforter and a few stuffed friends). 

But now, your child has an official kid responsibility on their list! Hooray!

 Household Chores

This category is for the greater good of the house and made up of responsibilities for being part of the family.  These jobs include pulling weeds in the backyard, opening the blinds in the morning, and putting recyclables in the bin in the garage.  They don’t directly relate to the child or their messes, but they need to be taken care of, all the same.

It might be easier to introduce these chores once your child is already familiar with a few of their personal responsibilities.  That way, they will better understand what is expected of them when completing tasks – before it affects the whole house.

Letting Them Run With It

Listen, your child is going to do things their way.  No matter how many times you show them the way a task should be completed, they will always put their own spin on things.

This might mean that there will be more messes than you’re used to – or that chores take more time than they once did.  And, trust me, you’ll be dying inside to redo everything. 

But don’t.

Let the forks and knives be zig-zag in the silverware basket.  Look the other way from the haphazardly folded shirts lying in the drawer.  And, try not to smooth out the wrinkles in the blanket that your child put back on their bed. 

For your son or daughter to learn the importance of being a contributing member of the family, they need to know that their help is appreciated and respected as is.

So, things are going to take more time.  And maybe they won’t be as neat.  But, the tasks will get done – and that’s the most important part of all this, anyway. Remember, these are child responsibilities at home – it’s okay if the results are child-like.

Gentle Reminders

Even after you introduce the household chores to your kids, know that you’ll be reminding them of their tasks for quite some time.

Children need a gentle nudge every now and again (heck – even my husband needs to be reminded when it’s garbage day!).  So, there are a few different methods to help keep them on track.

Daily Schedule

This schedule includes the tasks that are specific to your child and are the same each and every day.  For example, my 6-year-old has homework responsibilities that her 3-year-old brother does not.  So, homework is on her daily schedule, but not on her brother’s.  She also plays piano, so she has piano practice listed on there, but her brother doesn’t.

6-year-old rockin’ the piano.

 These tasks are her responsibility every day.  She is expected to take care of them and get them done without fail.  (Although, I mean, we do let her skip piano sometimes…)

Because the schedule does not change from day-to-day, the kids know exactly what is expected of them and what their responsibilities are.  We do not utilize or mark-up this particular schedule very often, but it is available as a resource. 

This daily schedule available on Amazon might be of interest, if you want to establish your child’s routine with their kid responsibilities. It includes 34 pre-printed task labels and 10 that you can write on for specific tasks for your child, as well as 20 checkmarks to use when a task is completed.

If you’re just starting out, this could be a great resource to get you going!

Chore Chart

When you’re ready to jump into the household expectations, a chore chart is a must.  Chores are not always done on a daily basis, so the chart helps to remind your kids what tasks need to be done and when.

For example, my littles have to feed the pets every day, but only need to check for weeds once a week.   My oldest puts her folded laundry away on Wednesdays and Sundays, as well.

So, as you can see, without a chart, it can start to get confusing.  But also, the chart takes the nagging off Mom.  Instead of me having to tell the kids every time they have a chore to do, I can simply direct them to the kids chore list. 

  • “Hey guys, did you check the chore chart?” 
  • “Oh kids, I think we need to look at the chore chart today!”

It’s so much better than, “How many times have I asked you to take out the garbage, man!?”

I love this set of magnetic charts available on Amazon, because they are dry erase.  You can come up with a system – and COMPLETELY re-do it, if it’s not for you.

Pro-tip:  Write your system in permanent marker.  Yep.  On your dry erase board – use permanent marker.  That way, it’ll have a better chance of staying put each week.  If you want to make changes, just color over your permanent marker with dry erase marker and erase.  (This might take 2 or 3 times.)  And boom

Also, this set includes a CALENDAR magnet AND a set of markers.  So, you can color coordinate everyone’s chores and their schedule of activities.  Easy to quickly see what is going on for the whole family at a glance – or for a child to take a peek and see what they have on deck!

Verbal Encouragement

 The most common way of getting a chore done is just to remind the little guy or gal of their kid responsibilities.

“Hey dude, don’t forget, you gotta pick up the dog poop today.” 

My kids respond pretty well to these reminders, but not always.

When the whining starts, we have a quick lesson about pulling your own weight in the family, and then they usually will finish the task.  If not, we like to show the kids how Mommy and Daddy have chores just like they do, even if they don’t always recognize them as such. We have our menu board in the kitchen all the time – and that’s a quick way to remember the planning and prepping that goes into just one part of our day!

Responsibilities First

In our household, the kids (and adults!) have to complete their chores before they get to do anything fun.

This means, morning chores are done right after breakfast.  And homework starts as soon as you walk in the door from school.

It might sound strict, but really, it just opens up the schedule for more free time.  The kids know they have to get their home responsibilities out of the way, so they get right to work.  When everything is completed, they have full reign of the rest of the morning/afternoon to do as they see fit.

This also alleviates any stress for the parents, since we know there are no hidden projects or papers in backpacks just waiting for the morning rush.  We take care of everything as soon as possible, so we have more time to sit back and relax.

It might seem counterintuitive, but trust me – it works.  Get those kid responsibilities done first and there will be much more time to chill out.

And that’s that!

However you decide to run with your household chores, just get moving!  You want to start the expectations now while your kids are still young, so there are no surprises as they get older.  The responsibility of a child can be easily taught. And the child who fully understands their role in the family will not balk at the suggestion of further responsibility as they age.

The kid who helps put groceries away at 5, will be making family dinners at 15.  …..Right?! 🤷🏻‍♀️

Join us on Pinterest for more thoughts and ideas about having a Happy House!

Kid responsibilities, making chores work

About the Author

The Merry Kate

Katie Johansen is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University with her M.A.Ed in Children’s Literature.  She spent 6 years as an elementary school teacher in South Florida before transitioning to stay-at-home #momlife.  Now, it’s all things PB&J – with an extra large cup of coffee on the side.

Chores for Little Kids

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