Age appropriate cleaning chores for toddlers to teens

Getting your kids to do their chores can be a real chore, but those daily duties play a huge role in their development.

“It gives them that sense of responsibility and makes them feel important,” says Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, a pediatrician at Seattle’s Children’s Hospital, USA and author of the blog Seattle Mama Doc.

“Kids really do want to help, and chores help them feel that they can contribute something of value and be part of the family unit.”

And it's (almost) never to early to start: Kids can begin "helping" around the house as soon as they show an interest, which can be as early as 18 months. Obviously, your toddler’s not going to be mowing the lawn for at least the next decade, but deciding when she’s ready to tackle less dangerous tasks, like helping unload the dishwasher, can be a little bit grayer. 

This list can serve as a guideline to what your kid may be ready to manage on his own, but you should keep your individual child’s skills in mind when you’re creating your own chore chart. “You know your kid best developmentally,” says Dr. Swanson. “Every child is different, and one child may be ready to do certain chores at an earlier age than another.”

That said, here's what the experts say most kids can handle, and when:

1 to 2 Years Old

TASKS: Help set the table (plastic dishes and napkins only)
Carrying and fetching things (safe items like sweaters)
Helping with meal preparation (stirring or adding ingredients with your help)
Putting away their toys

3 to 4 Years Old

TASKS: All of the above, plus:
Help grocery shop (choose produce, hold items, place items in cart)
Help sort laundry by colors
Fold easy laundry
Match socks
Feed pets (with supervision!)
Dust surfaces
Put dirty clothes in a hamper or basket

5 to 6 Years Old

TASKS: All of the above, plus:
Help empty the dishwasher (minus sharp knives or truly fragile items)
Sweep floors
Set and clear the table
Put her laundry away
Make her bed
Empty wastebaskets
Keep her room clean

7 to 9 Years Old

TASKS: All of the above, plus:
Use a lightweight vacuum
Load dishwasher
Wash dishes
Rake leaves
Put away groceries
Wipe down sinks and countertops
Take out trash

10 to 13 Years Old

TASKS: All of the above, plus:
Weed the garden
Pack her lunch
Mop floors
Change sheets
Prep an easy snack or meal

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