Southern Mom Loves: Teaching Kids Responsibility Through Chores (And How to Get Started!)

Teaching Kids Responsibility Through Chores (And How to Get Started!)

Saturday, September 1, 2018

We all want to raise children who become responsible adults, but that won't happen on its own. Teaching kids how to be responsible is a must. Responsibility can be learned by raising a pet, doing homework, or making sure their room stays clean, but one tool that parents seem to have pulled away from in recent years are chores. Chores are a wonderful way for children to learn responsibility and even at a young age, there are chores your children can manage.

Why Kids Should Do Chores

It doesn’t matter if your child is a toddler, all children should have some chores. A chore gives your child something to be in charge of. When you start this at a young age, the child gets a sense of accomplishment that is beneficial in so many ways. They also will get used to establishing routines, which can help throughout their lives.

Chores also prepare your child for what’s coming later in life, which is taking care of an entire household. It is truly better for them to learn as they grow rather than trying to cram all of that knowledge in when they leave home.

What Chores are Appropriate for What Ages

There are chores for all ages of children. Toddlers can help gather dirty clothing to be washed or gather up their toys to put in a bin. The older a child gets, the more he or she can handle.

A child at the age of six can start sweeping and loading plastic items into the dishwasher. At the age of eight, your child can start using a stick vacuum to clean the floors. You just have to be intuitive about what chores you think your child can handle and let go of perfection. The lessons they'll be learning here are worth living with missed spots and wonkily-packed dishwashers for a while. :)

Using Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement can come in many forms. Toddlers will usually be happy with praise, while older kids may want something in return. The age of your child is going to play a big roll in what that reinforcement is.

For example, kids ages three to six may be happy with small toys or art kits from the Dollar Tree as a reward each week. Check out this post for how I set up a Treasure Box for kids. As your child ages, the system may change to that of an allowance. Allowance systems may be a certain amount each week or your child may get paid based on the chore. It’s all up to you.

Setting Up a Chore Chart

A chore chart is a great tool that any household can use to track chores and who does what. You can set up a chore chart for each child or use a large whiteboard to set up a chore chart for the whole family.

Chore charts for children up to the teen years may include some sort of tracking system that leads to a reward. For example, a child may get a sticker each time they do all of their chores. At the end of the week, if they've done their chores each day, they can choose a prize.

For teens, their chore chart might simply focus on the chores that need to be done and serve as a reminder of what you expect from them in exchange for an allowance or paying for their phone or internet service.

You can use stickers with a paper chore chart or laminate it so that your child can use a dry erase marker to mark off their chores each day of the week. You can then wipe the chart clean and start fresh. You could also use a chalkboard and set up a grid with thin strips of tape, then wipe it clean at the beginning of each week.

Check out my post: 6 Free Chore Chart Printables for Kids of All Ages!

Changing the System as Your Child Ages

Chores should get harder as your child ages and can handle more responsibility. Instead of doing a couple chores a week, they may be doing a few chores each day. Folding laundry is a walk in the park compared to cleaning the toilet, that’s why many parents start providing an allowance to their child. Chores are the first “job” for many children. It teaches them that doing the work will result in a payoff of sorts.

However, your child also needs to understand that there is no payoff other than a clean house and a sense of accomplishment once they are out on their own. Chores are simply a part of life and need to be done!

Think back to your own childhood. What chores did you do as a child? What chores did you actually enjoy doing? Which chores did you despise? Sometimes it’s all about working with your children to create chores for the family that each person doesn’t mind doing. For example, you may love doing laundry and your oldest child may love cooking meals for the family. A household should work together based on each person’s strengths, which in itself is a good lesson in teamwork. :)


Do your children have chores? At what age did you start? What are their favorite rewards? I love to read your comments!

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