Dr. Ducharme’s Blog Kids and Chores July 30, 2018

July 31, 2018

I have, in the past, written about helicopter parents,  parents who want to control their children’s world. Many feel they are protecting their kids and helping them to succeed in life. Unfortunately, many parents also feel they are helping their children enjoy their childhood by doing everything for them. I see far too many kids who have  never emptied a dishwasher, been taught to cook at age appropriate levels, helped with laundry or even emptied the garbage. When I discuss this with parents the response is frequently something to the effect of: “I know I should” or “Even if I ask them to do it they don’t get it done” or “They don’t do a very good job”.

Whatever the reason, we are not helping our kids develop into responsible adults if we don’t teach them that being part of a family means helping out. Even toddlers can help you make a bed, fill the pet’s water dish, and dust. There are many resources on the web to help you figure out what are age appropriate chores. More details for the list below are available at the Focus on the Family website. This list is certainly not exhaustive and please remember not to expect perfection, especially when kids are just learning how to do certain chores. Be heavy on the praise. And remember, if your child has any specific learning disabilities or challenges you need to adjust what is age appropriate or help with reminder lists. I certainly understand that some parents give kids a pass on chores when they have heavy school schedules or sport commitments. But, helping kids figure out how to meet their commitments and help out around the house may actually teach the kids about work/life balance. Being a good parent does not mean you have to do everything for your kids!

Preschoolers, (4-5 yrs old) can generally make their bed with minimal parent help and certainly can be responsible for picking up their toys, helping carry their own things to and from the car. They can even help with setting a table and clearing dishes. You may not want them handling your fine china and crystal. But, how many of us use these items on a daily basis? Toddlers can help with cooking preparation, carry lighter groceries and help with sorting laundry.

School-age kids (6-7) should be making their bed daily. they can begin to dust their room, learn to fold some laundry…tho clearly not contour sheets! I am still trying to figure out that one. They can be responsible for putting their laundry in drawers. They can even help on preparation of their school lunches.

8-11 yr olds can definitely wash dishes, prepare a few easy meals on their own, help with yard work and even help test smoke alarms once a month with supervision. They can also be expected to empty the dishwasher and begin to wake up on their own with an alarm clock. They also make great mother’s helpers!

12-13 yr olds can  often mow the lawn, dust, vacuum, change a vacuum bag, baby sit (I recommend kids take a Red Cross approved baby sitting class), pet sit for a neighbor, prepare a number of foods, and do laundry.

14-15 yr olds should be managing most of their homework on their own, do more yard work, prepare meals and wash cars.

By 16-18 they can do most things around the house and be expected to take care of their own personal needs. Once they start driving they can also help with grocery store runs and getting siblings to activities. Many kids at this age also like to have jobs outside the home. If they have been raised to help out at home, they may even make better and more responsible employees.