Are you looking for the perfect well to help your child become more independent while making a positive contribution to the family? Chores — and a chore chart — may be the answer.
Not only do kids' chores help take some of the household responsibilities off of your plate, but they also cultivate a sense of responsibility in your child and make her feel needed — an important step in her growth.
So, how do you determine which chores are appropriate for your child? And how do you create the perfect chore chart that will incentivize her to actually complete them? Let's dive in.
Assigning age-appropriate chores
Think your child is too young for chores? Think again. There are plenty of chores kids can do at nearly any age, and they instill a sense of responsibility in them early on. It is, however, important to choose chores that are age-appropriate and gradually increase their complexity as kids grow older and mature. Some tasks they can do at different ages include:
Ages 2 and 3
• Put toys away
• Help make their own beds (with your guidance)
• Fill the hamper with dirty clothes
• Clean up minor spills
• Fill pet's food dish
• Mop with your assistance
Ages 4 and 5
• All the above chores
• Wash their hands
• Get dressed
• Help put away groceries
• Set the table (with your help)
• Help with the dishes and clearing the table
• Clean their rooms
• Help with laundry, such as matching socks
Ages 6 and 7
• Any of the above chores
• Assist with taking care of pets
• Vacuum, mop and sweep
• Take out the trash (with your help)
• Rake leaves
• Help make their own lunches and prepare food
• Make beds without assistance
• Clean rooms
• Answer the phone
• Write thank-you notes
• All of the above chores
• Load the dishwasher or wash dishes by hand
• Do laundry
• Shovel snow
• Rake leaves
• Be responsible for wake-up
• Clean the house
• Cook simple meals
Ages 12 and up
• All of the above chores
• Cook dinner as needed
• Wash windows
• Mow the lawn
• Iron clothes
• Babysit younger siblings
• Change bedsheets
In all cases, consider adding responsibilities outside of the household, such as doing homework. If these "chores" are on the chore chart, your kids may be more likely to remember to do them.
Deciding on the right visual
Now comes the fun part: choosing a chore chart to display the family's chores. There are some factors you should keep in mind before combing through different designs.
First of all, account for the ages of your children. A very young child can't read yet, so your chart should focus more on colorful pictures of tasks rather than written words; otherwise, she won't understand what she needs to do. However, that type of chore chart won't appeal to a teenager. In that case, you might want to opt for a punch-card system instead. If you have kids of all different ages, you'll need to strike some sort of balance and find a system that works for everyone.
Also, think about your children's likes and dislikes. If, for example, one of your kids loves a certain animal, pick a design that features it prominently. Try to incorporate multiple kids' interests to make the chart appealing to everyone.
Don't forget to include the parents' responsibilities on the chart, too. Your children should see that chores don't stop when you're an adult: everyone needs to contribute!
Finding the right location for your chore chart
Display your chore chart in a prominent location that every member of the family frequents, such as the refrigerator. It needs to be readily accessible in an area all your family members will see every day — preferably many times per day — so it can serve as a reminder of what each family member still needs to do.
Try to avoid putting it in a location specific to a single person, such as your child's door, because this gives off the impression that only she is responsible for doing chores. Instead, make it clear that you all have responsibilities, including the parents, and everyone is contributing to the overall well-being of the family.
Ideally, your child should be self-motivated to complete her chores. However, realistically, that's not always the case. So, how can you incentivize her?
Not with money. While some parents give children allowances for completing their chores in order to teach them how to handle money, it's better to avoid doing so, because it rewards them for doing something that should be their responsibility anyway. Of course, if an older child goes above and beyond and she's already shown that she's responsible and mature, you might give her a small amount of money as a thank you.
You can still incentivize children in other ways. For example, some of the chore charts above have columns for stickers and stars. You might devise a system in which a certain number of stickers equals a special treat, such as your child choosing a favorite meal to have for dinner or getting to watch an hour of television. You might also give extra rewards for a job particularly well-done. This can be especially effective if your child doesn't know it's coming; that way, she's not working because of the special reward.
You might also make it a game. For example, you can try to see who can complete all their chores the earliest. Just make sure this doesn't lead to haphazard work — remind your kids that they still need to be thorough with their responsibilities.
Don't forget to praise your child frequently for a job well done, too. And don't just wait until after she's finished her task; praising her while she's still doing it will motivate her to keep going and persist. This is the best form of incentivization — encouragement for the effort she's making.