When do you start giving kids chores?

Rachel - posted on 08/05/2010 ( 8 moms have responded )

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Today my FB status said my almost four year old didn't get ice cream because she didn't clean her room. I got slammed by several people, including one family member, telling me she is too young. Someone asked if my mom made us clean our rooms at that age. I called her, and the answer was yes. It wasn't like you coudn't see the floor. It started with a few dolls and some books. Being openly defiant, the mess grew. I let her know her the consequences of her actions.
I feel it is important to start teaching responsibilities at a young age. They get the toys out, they clean it up. Obviously my 7 month old can't clean up her toys on her own (but I bet she'd have fun putting them in the basket!), Kylee is going to be four in a month. Elijah is going to be three in October and he cleaned up an even messier room. Do we just do every thing for our kids and think that one day, magically, they will learn how to do it themselves? Or do we start young with simple things like cleaning their room, and adding things like putting silverware away, or sorting the socks and underwear when the whites come out of the dryer.

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I know I'm replying on this after some time, but I wanted to add personal experience with a younger child. More people need to understand that chores have more than one purpose. Making your child do chores is not just treating them as a slave so that you have help cleaning. It is teaching them personal responsibility, discipline to complete a given task, general good hygiene/sanitation, the value of contributing to the family/community... As soon as Easton was physically capable (sometime around 9-12 months), I began teaching him to clean up after himself. Not making him do it himself, but guiding him along with me as I picked up his toys. You start young because you want it to be a natural occurance for them as they grow. Around 15-18 months we started letting him feed the dog, again, not by himself just to take a task off our hands, but WITH us...to teach a daily lesson in responsibility. He is now 22 months and knows that before naps, bedtime, meals or leaving the house we always pick up our toys. And it's never a fight, because it's just our regular routine. He puts his clothes in the hamper at night, puts his cups in the sink when he finishes drink, shoes in the basket and hat on the dresser when he gets home from somewhere. He sometimes wants to help with dishes, great!, we pull a chair up to the sink and we wash and rinse then let him set them in the drying rack. Last week while we cleaned up the yard he had a blast helping carry brush to the alley. I realize he's obviously notalwaysgoing to be so eager to do chores, but I feel he is learning young a very valuable sense of satisfaction in contributing to the family responsibilities.

Shannintipton - posted on 06/06/2011

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Hi Rachel,
Sorry I didn't read the other posts. I have a short attention span today. I agree with you. They do not just magically start cleaning their rooms at 12. They need to be guided. I love my little slaves now. Grant it they don't always do a good job and I have to pick up after they pick up. They are getting the concept though. Which I think is the first step. And with practice they will get better. Keep up the good work.

Nicole - posted on 06/06/2011

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John is two now, but he has a very helpful personality. from the get go i have always asked him to help me with things. ie if im making the bed he'll grab a corner and shake it up too. ill set it straight again when hes not looking. ill go to the line with washing and ask him to hand mw things one by one or to hand me pegs if its something big or heavy. if im making burger patties like this afternoon ill get him to help squish the ingredients with me in the bowl. if im washing the bathroom ill give him a dry cloth and hell 'wash' the floor or tiles or lord knows what else he can get to and reach :o)
this way when he gets older he will not think it is weird to help and will find pleasure in cleanliness and cleaning.

sometimes his helping actually made more work for me but not anymore really. for egsample i would fold the clothes and put them in the cupboard and he would bring more folded clothes to me out of the cupboard thinking i would like to fold them again. i never scolded him, just distracted his attention or left it till later when he was asleep to continue. xxx

Amanda - posted on 11/16/2010

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Oh geez!! I make my almost 7 yr old, 4 yr old, almsot 3 yr old and almost 2 yr old pick up daily! The 2 older ones make their bed, clean their rooms, take their dirty laundry to the laundry room, rinse off their own dishes as well! My 2 youngest can't quite do that yet, but they know that when they are done playing with a toy they put it away before getting a different toy. They also hang up their own jackets/coats, and put their shoes where they go as well!! My daycare kids even help do things here like picking up toys, hanging up their belongings, and helping clean up the arts and crafts area when we're done. Their parents thank me almost daily for instilling good clean up behavior because they do these things at home as well!!! And they are 5, and 2!!! I had to do things myself when I was younger! I don't think you are in the wrong what so ever! She's YOUR child, she lives by YOUR rules!!! No one else has a right to say ANYTHING about your parenting style unless you were to be abusing your children which I assume you don't! :)

Briana - posted on 08/15/2010

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Couldn't help myself. I had to reply even though it was forever ago. And, honestly, I have had comments from that same family member. Devilan even sees it and is like "Wtf?" and I just brush it off but that was out of line. I get so tired of people having to always say what is on their mind. Sometimes its best to keep your mouth shut.

Briana - posted on 08/15/2010

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Seriously? I wish I could've seen that. I'd have had your back!!!

Having your 4 year old start cleaning up after herself is teaching her RESPONSIBILITY! Me and Devilan differ on this a little bit. I told him Junior WILL have chores when he gets older, such as keeping his room clean and a couple household chores. As a boy, he also needs to know how to clean a house because he isn't going to live with Mommy and Daddy forever ;) Right now he's going to be our only child, and most likely he'll have his own bathroom as well and Momma is NOT cleaning that for him. I won't clean our master bathroom and his bathroom. I am not his maid.

So yeah, I think starting at toddler age is a good time to start teaching kids to start cleaning up after themselves. It can start with a simple "Put your dishes in the sink" or "Pick up your toys" or "Put your clothes in the hamper". I agree Rach, I remember Mom making us do that stuff. By age 10 (that's the earliest I remember for me) I was cleaning every weekend with you and Nikki.

Celeste - posted on 08/06/2010

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I don't think she's too young to start cleaning up after herself. I don't have set chores but I do have my kids clean up after themselves (I have 3 year old twins and an almost 8 year old daughter). I don't expect them to clean up their entire room by themselves because it's too much for my boys. (they'll get easily distracted). I'll help them with that. But, toys in the livingroom, plates in the sink, definitely.



My daughter is given more responsibilities. She sweeps, mops, cleans her room, helps me load the dishwasher and starts the dishwasher.. She also puts her laundry away.



ETA: I also feel it's important to teach them these things early, just seeing what happened in my own family. My mom has 4 kids, and I'm the oldest. We were given chores but for some reason, when I left, she became more lax. She did everything for my younger brother and sister. As a result, my brother is 28 years old, and doesn't know how to do laundry, or other household chores. He still lives with my mom (and mooches off of her) and she does everything for him..

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