20 Developmental Benefits of Household Chores

“Peter, you’re in charge of dusting. Scott, you need to vacuum the rooms upstairs and downstairs, make sure to do the stairs – everyone of them – and the hallway. Greg, feed the pigs and collect the chicken eggs. Ben, clean up the dog poop and mow the law. After you are done with that, I need you all to weed the strawberries and then stack all the hay bales in the barn. Oh, and do the dishes, clean your rooms, brush your teeth and make sure your homework is done.”

This was the weekend list of chores that Mom would delegate to myself and my three younger brothers. We lived on a farm so there was always work to do. At the time, I hated doing chores but looking back, I’m glad she made us do the work. The long term benefits have been invaluable. Little did my mom realize, by assigning chores to her sons she was helping us develop essential skills of functional independence.

As a parent, we have an obligation to help our children develop mentally, emotionally and physically. Household chores are an excellent opportunity to do so! Here are 20 benefits to involving your child with chores around the house:

20 Benefits of Involving Children in Household Chores:

  1. Development of organizational, sequencing and executive functions
  2. Practice and development of delayed gratification
  3. Improved understanding of following instructions and ordinal processes
  4. Fine and gross motor skills are developed and refined
  5. Development of a variety of ADL (acts-of-daily-living) skills
  6. Vocational skills are established and developed
  7. Improved healthy self esteem & confidence
  8. Provides children with “successes” that they can build upon
  9. Development of independence
  10. Reinforces the importance of routine and structure
  11. Develops the concept of first work, then play
  12. Results in a stronger work ethic
  13. Provides opportunities for language development that is essential to early academic success including basic spatial, temporal and quantitative concepts
  14. Helps build children’s self monitoring and evaluative skills
  15. Prepares children to complete more complex tasks
  16. Enables children to develop various aspects of teamwork and sense of belonging
  17. Establishes a sense of ownership
  18. Development of sense of responsibility
  19. Improves critical thinking/problem solving skills
  20. Helps increase task tolerance and attention

Age Appropriate Chores

How should we go about assigning tasks to our children? The chore that we ask our children to complete should match their age and or abilities. As we grow and develop, our jobs grow in complexity, duration and skill level. The following are suggested activities to help your children succeed and benefit from helping around the house:

2-3 Years Old

  • Dust a room
  • Pick up toys
  • Put dirty laundry in the hamper
  • Fold rags or dish cloths
  • Put away forks and spoons
  • Put garbage in the trash can

4-6 Years Old

  • Feed and clean up after pet
  • Set the table
  • Clear the table
  • Make their bed
  • Empty small trash cans
  • Sweep with a small broom
  • Put away groceries
  • And all previous chores listed

7-11 Years Old

  • Clean bathroom, including toilet
  • Clean the care
  • Task the trash bins to the curb
  • Wash the windows or mirrors
  • Vacuum
  • Sweep
  • Organize toys and books
  • Retrieve the mail
  • Weed the garden
  • Fold laundry
  • Prep meals
  • And all previous chores listed

12+ Years Old

  • Mop floors
  • Mow lawn
  • Wash, dry, iron and fold laundry
  • Clean the dishes
  • Cook simple meals
  • Wash the car
  • Babysit siblings
  • And all previous chores listed

I do. We do. You do.

Every family is different and some chores may be more appropriate depending on the child’s skills and situation. A simple, yet effective strategy for teaching a child a chore, is the “I do, we do, you do” approach. First demonstrate how to do the chore; second, do the chore with the child; and then finally have the child perform the chore on their own. You can scaffold this approach up or down as appropriate.

As you involve your child in chores around the house there will inevitably be some resistance, grumbling and possibly even some tantrums. Not to worry. Keep in mind your child’s skills and age as you assign tasks to ensure that you are assigning appropriate chores that they can fulfill. Over time their skills and ability to perform tasks will improve as you continue to involve them… and one day in the future, they will thank you for it. 🙂

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