Most of us lack enthusiasm for household chores such as mopping the kitchen floor or folding the laundry. But adults’ lack of enthusiasm for these chores pales in comparison to their children’s opinion of them. However, according to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), chores play an important role in childhood development. For example, chores help children learn management skills, and how to balance work and play time. Chores also help children learn to accept responsibility within the family, and provides them with an opportunity to be successful.

Parents may have a long to-do list of chores around the house, and it can be tempting to share that workload with youngsters. However, the AACAP notes the importance of picking age-appropriate chores for children. Children given chores more suited to older youngsters may fail at completing those tasks, setting a negative precedent that adversely affects their self-esteem and makes them reluctant to do their chores in the future. On the flip side, picking an age-appropriate chore for a child increases his or her likelihood of success, which can boost their confidence and make them more likely to approach their chores with enthusiasm.

The AACAP offers the following age-based chore suggestions to parents as they look to give their children more responsibility around the house:

  • 2- to 3-year-olds: Children in this age group can put their toys away and help put groceries away as well. Stick to groceries that can be dropped without breaking or spilling, which rules out jars of pasta sauce or milk and juice. Children in this age group also can start to dress themselves, though the AACAP recommends parents offer help when necessary so kids do not become discouraged.
  • 4- to 5-year-olds: Four- and 5-year-olds can make their beds and help feed their pets. In addition, children in this age group can help clear the table after meals, but parents should be sure to take sharp objects such as knives to the sink before kids begin helping.
  • 6- to 7-year-olds: This is a good age for children to begin taking on more complicated chores, including wiping tables and counters, putting laundry away, and sweeping floors.
  • 7- to 9-year-olds: Children in this age group can help their parents prepare meals and even pack their own lunch for school. The responsibility of loading and unloading the dishwasher also can be given to kids between the ages of seven and nine.
  • 10- to 11-year-olds: More difficult tasks such as changing the sheets on their beds, cleaning kitchens and bathrooms, and doing yard work are appropriate for kids in this age group.
  • 12-years-old and older: Children 12 and older can help take care of younger siblings and pitch in with grocery shopping and running errands.

Chores play a vital role as children grow up and mature. Assigning age-appropriate chores is important as parents look to help their children develop into responsible adolescents.