How Much Can Your Kids Help With?

An FAQ on what the research says about age appropriate chores
Blog Post
Oct. 3, 2019

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When children regularly take responsibility for helping with family chores, not only is the workload shared more fairly at home and more time created for family fun and connection, but it helps children build confidence and competence. Structure and routine can help build a child’s self control, give them an opportunity to practice executive function skills and reduce power struggles with parents. Doing chores together also creates space for communication and helps build relationships. And finally, research has found that when children actively participate in family care and household work, they begin to see beyond themselves and become more concerned about others in the family, too.

Do expect participation. Don’t expect perfection. Give clear instructions. Model. Remember that every child is different and that these are guidelines only to help you decide what’s best for your family. And most importantly, praise effort!

Children from very young ages can begin pitching in at home. Here’s a list of age-appropriate chores gleaned from a variety of sources, including the American College of Pediatricians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology, parenting experts and Dr. Brittany Schrick, professor and family life specialist at the University of Arkansas.


  • Put toys away
  • Throw away trash
  • Brush their teeth
  • Put dirty clothes in a hamper or basket
  • Sort by color, and fold small items of laundry
  • Sort and put away clean silverware
  • Clear their own place and carry their own dishes to the sink
  • Pull weeds
  • Choose an outfit (give limited range of options)
  • Dress and undress themselves
  • Learn to clean/ dust chair seats, window sills, baseboards
  • Wipe up spills
  • Pile books and magazines


  • Clean up their own messes
  • Feed pets
  • Straighten bed and bedroom
  • Put away dishes and silverware
  • Learn to set and clear the table
  • Prepare a simple snack, fix a bowl of cereal
  • Help with easy food preparation like mashing or measuring
  • Use a dust mop and floor sweeper
  • Wipe low surfaces with cleanser
  • Gather trash from smaller cans to larger can
  • Water plants
  • Sort and fold clothes
  • Bring in the mail or newspaper


  • Shower, brush teeth, groom selves
  • Plan clothes choices for the next day or week (give them autonomy with their choices)
  • Sort dirty laundry - whites and colors
  • Put away their own laundry
  • Sweep, vacuum floors
  • Prepare basic meals and snacks using a toaster or microwave
  • Rake leaves and weed
  • Dust
  • Wipe counters, sink
  • Keep bedroom tidy
  • Unload backpack
  • Sort recycling


  • Fold clothes, towels
  • Load and unload dishwasher, wash dishes, wipe table
  • Take out trash
  • Mop the floor
  • Clean the shower/ tub and toilet
  • Make their own breakfast
  • Prepare their own school lunch
  • Put away groceries
  • Help with basic meal prep for family meals, like chopping, peeling vegetables
  • Take family pets for a walk
  • Sew buttons
  • Pack backpack
  • Prepare a menu
  • Write a grocery list
  • Distribute clean laundry


  • Do their own laundry
  • Change bed linens
  • Supervise younger siblings
  • Cook with stove and oven
  • Clean kitchen, bathroom
  • Mow lawn, work in the yard
  • Iron clothes
  • Wash windows
  • Take responsibility for getting needed supplies for school, sports or other activities


  • Wash, vacuum car
  • Shop for groceries with a list
  • Cook complete meal
  • Complete simple home repairs/painting with guidance
  • Babysit younger siblings


  • Grocery shopping
  • Running errands
  • Plan and prepare the family meal once a week
  • Help keep shared space tidy
  • Clean room once a week
  • Help younger siblings with homework
  • Clean gutters, blow leaves, shovel snow and other seasonal chores
  • Pet care
  • Organize garage or book shelves
  • Clean out refrigerator
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