What Chores Can My Child Do?

Posted by in No-Cry Discipline

Assigning household chores is a great way to build self-esteem and a feeling of competence. Regular chores establish helpful habits and good attitudes about work. Having chores teaches lessons about life and creates an understanding that there are jobs that must be done to run a household. Children who grow up doing chores will find the flow into adulthood much easier than those without responsibility will.

Madeline, 6 yrs

Madeline, 6 yrs

Choose age appropriate jobs for children.

Most parents underestimate their children’s abilities! Keep in mind that a child who has mastered a complicated computer game can easily run the dishwasher! Preschoolers can handle one or two simple daily jobs. Older children can manage two or three daily jobs along with one or two weekly jobs.

Take time for training.

Don’t assume that since your child has seen you do the task a hundred times that she can do it herself. Be very specific in your instruction and demonstrate step-by-step as your child watches. The next step is to let your child help you, followed by your child doing the chore as you supervise. At the point you feel that your child has mastered the job she can take over responsibility for it.

Make a chart.

Children need a visual daily reminder to keep them on track doing chores. A chore chart (try a dry erase board) on which a child can make daily check marks is a helpful way to remind them without you having to nag!

Use the “when/then” technique.

“When your homework is done, then you can play outside.” Or “When your pajamas are on and teeth brushed, then we will read a book.” What makes this idea work is that it’s a simple reminder and adds something to look forward to afterward.

Be very specific in your instructions.

As an example, “clean your room” is vague and can be interpreted in any number of ways. Instead, be clear by saying, “Put your clothes in the closet, books on the shelf, dishes in the kitchen, and toys in the toy box.”



Age Appropriate Chore Ideas

What follows is a list of ideas from which you can choose a few chores for your child. Don’t try to turn your child into Cinderella! Simply review the list, consider your child’s age, ability, and personality, and select chores appropriate for your child. Preschoolers can handle one or two simple jobs. As children get older they can handle a larger quantity of jobs, as well as those that are more complex.

Here are some ideas to get you thinking. You might even go through this list with your children and let them pick a few things that they would like to do. Involving them in the process might produce more willing participation.

    • Ages 2 to 3:
      Put toys away
      Fill pet’s food dish
      Put clothes in hamper
      Wipe up spills
      Pile books or magazines
      Choose clothes and dress self


    • Ages 4 to 5:
      Above chores plus:
      Make own bed
      Empty wastebaskets
      Bring in mail or newspaper
      Clear table
      Pull weeds
      Use hand-held vacuum to pick up crumbs
      Water flowers
      Unload utensils from dishwasher
      Fix bowl of cereal


    • Ages 6 to 7:
      Above chores plus:
      Sort laundry
      Sweep or Swiffer floors
      Handle personal hygiene
      Set and clear table
      Help make and pack lunch
      Weed and rake leaves
      Keep own bedroom tidy
      Pour own drink
      Answer telephone


    • Ages 8 to 9:
      Above chores plus:
      Load dishwasher
      Put away groceries
      Help make dinner
      Make own snacks
      Wash table after meals
      Put away own laundry
      Sew button
      Run own bath
      Make own breakfast
      Peel vegetables
      Cook simple food (such as eggs or toast)
      Mop floor
      Take pet for daily walk
      Clean up after pet
      Pack own suitcase


    • Ages 10 and up:
      Above chores plus:
      Unload dishwasher
      Fold laundry
      Clean bathroom
      Wash windows
      Wash and clean car
      Cook simple meal with supervision
      Do laundry
      Baby-sit younger siblings (with adult in the home)
      Clean kitchen
      Change bed
      Make cookies or other foods from simple recipes
      Plan birthday party or other event
      Have neighborhood job – such as pet care or yard work
      Have a paper route
      Work in family business doing simple filing, envelope stuffing, shredding or other tasks
Isabel, 23 months

Isabel, 23 months

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Need more tips? The No-Cry Discipline Solution is full of gentle ways to encourage cooperation without whining, yelling or tears!




  1. My three year old like to fold wash cloths. It gives her something to do while I fold the rest of the laundry and she feels proud of herself. She is also a wizard with a swiffer.

    I will definitely initiate the chart idea, my older daughter loves checking things off and having a visual of her progress or efforts. I think this would be helpful in gaining her cooperation.

    I’m going to print this and let my oldest choose which appeal to her and decide which days she wants to do them. (So long as it is never.)


  2. Suggestion for another topic:
    Fun and educational things to do with your kids during summer. And or advice on structuring days to accommodate different developmental levels. We are struggling, my two-year-old is having difficulty adjusting to having her older sister around constantly, and my older daughter is missing the stimulation and challenge of school and I’m going a little nutty trying to fulfill everyone’s needs and maintain peace…

  3. My daughter (3) says “But I don’t want to” whenever I ask her if she would like to help me or if I tell her the books in her room need to be put away. When I insist, she starts a screamin match… any suggestions?

    • Hi Elisabeth! A three-year-old is VERY young for any regulary, daily chores. This is definitely a “training period.” Stick with simple, fun tasks – such as using a duster or feeding the cat. And don’t require it to be done every day. When you can, think of giving a choice: “Do you want to fill the cat’s food bowl, or put water in her water bowl?” When she gets older you can approach chores more seriously.