Many parents make the mistake of believing that their children’s only responsibility is school, but it has been shown that when children participate in housework from an early age, they get used to having commitments to fulfill. These are some tasks that children can perform according to their age.
Why it is important that children have household chores according to their age
Julie Lythcott-Haims, from Stanford University, author of the book Cómo criar a un adulto (How to raise an adult), assures that by giving children tasks according to their age we increase their chances of success in life, in addition to promoting their participation in the family and we give them a sense of belonging and social cooperation.
“The largest research in humans ever conducted shows that those who were professionally successful in life did chores as children (or had a part-time job in high school)”.
Because “doing chores around the house teaches a child work ethics. They learn to roll up their sleeves, to collaborate, to do the things that need to be done, even the unpleasant ones, to contribute to a greater whole. That’s what moves them forward in the workplace”, explains Lythcott, who is also an American educator and speaker. “If they are in charge of some tasks like taking out the garbage or organizing the clothes, the children realize that work is part of life.
If, on the other hand, we have children who do not wash even a dish, it means that someone else does the work, so they do not learn that each of us must contribute to improve the functioning of things”, adds the author.
The gradual process of children acquiring responsibility
Fernando Pineda, psychologist and coach, specialist in child education and upbringing, explains that the process of children to acquire responsibility is gradual, “responsible people are not born, they are made. If we want that our kids learn that value, we must promote it in them from a very young age”, explains the expert.
It is not giving the children excessive tasks, nor preventing them from their main job at this stage (playing), you simply have to give them small tasks to promote the value in them. With organization there is time for everything:
“Playing is a fundamental part of the development of any child, but if we only give them time to play, what do you think will happen when they are older and have to spend six hours learning or working?”
“Having no preparation for making an effort is what causes many children to have difficulty doing their homework and paying attention in class. From a very young age, children must be taught that there is time to play and time to study or work; and the faster and better we do our job, the sooner we can enjoy a game or a break”, says Pineda.
Montessori Housework Guide
Dr. Maria Montessori, Italian physician and educator, founder of the pedagogical method and philosophy that bears her name, drew up a list of tasks for children according to her age.
Household chores, said the scientist and pedagogue, help the child enhance the development of his motor, psychomotor and sensory abilities.
But that’s not all, they also favor the child’s autonomy, personality and self-esteem, because you let them know that his help is essential to reach the family goal and that makes them feel important.
According to Dr. Montessori
Young children love order and discipline, which leads them to an active, not submissive obedience. Because of the abysmal difference in physical and intellectual development of a two-year-old child and a seven-year-old, they should not carry out the same tasks, and they should learn them step by step, as in a ladder.
“In theory, children acquire responsibilities in steps according to their stage of development. It is evident that the earlier they start, the easier it will be. But if your child is in his second or third stage of development, do not expect to sow the little seed of responsibility immediately. Do not worry, better late than never”, adds the psychologist Fernando Pineda.
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List of house chores according to the age of the children
This list of tasks is suggested by Dr. Maria Montessori
2 to 3 years old
“Many people think that it is impossible to promote responsibilities in early childhood, but from the age of one, simple but effective foundations can be established so that later it becomes more natural for the child to help”, says Pineda.
- Pick up his toys and put them away in a box
- Put dirty clothes in the laundry hamper
- •Help clean up when liquid is spilled
- Stretch the duvet on his bed
- Throw trash away
- Water the plants with a watering can
- Put his books away
- Eat by himself
- Set (simply) the table
Always guide him. At this stage, probably it will be more difficult for you to finish your chores, but that is fine, remember that the objective is not that they really help you, but that they get used to cooperating. Remember that words must be linked to action. If you tell him to pick up his toys, take his little hands or pass the toy to him so he can take it where it belongs.
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4 to 6 years old
“In the second stage we can already give more responsibility to the child. I recommend going little by little. Please, don’t give them five chores at once, you have to start one by one; and as in the previous stage, we have to teach them how to do it, then we help them do it and finally we allow them to do their chores alone”, adds the psychologist. These are the tasks suggested by Dr. Montessori:
- Tidy up your room
- Wash the dishes
- Order the cutlery
- Unload the dishwasher
- Fold clothes (easy ones)
- Set or clean the table
- Get dressed by himself
- Brush his teeth or wash his face by himself
- Feed the pet and fill its water bowl
- Help prepare simple meals.
- Sweep with a broom adequate to his height
- Choose his clothes
“At this stage it is important that, as a mother or father, you organize their work because children love routines and once acquired, they will stick to their routine. Of course, when the routine is to do nothing and be messy, they also stick to it. Using timers or timetables for tasks helps a lot”, adds the expert.
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From 7 to 9 years old
- Throw the garbage away
- Make his bed
- Fix salads
- Prepare simple meals
- Using an alarm clock, get up in the morning independently
- Fold his clothes
- Prepare his schoolbag
- Set the dishwasher
- Vacuum the carpet
- Mop the floor
- Change light bulbs in low lamps
“At this stage, children must also do activities that benefit the other members of the home, not only those that correspond to their personal things or their personal care. This will help move from the natural self-centeredness that children have in the earlier stages”, says the parenting coach.
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Older than 10 years old
- Clean and organize a whole bedroom
- Wash the dishes
- Prepare his food without help
- Take care of the garden
- Set the washing machine or dryer
- Clean the bathroom
- Hang out the laundry
- Paint a wall
- Do the washing up
- Perform simple home repairs
- Teach a sibling how to do chores
“In the later stages I also recommend promoting the responsibility of managing and obtaining their own money. Otherwise we are teaching them that parents are a kind of ATM and they only have to stretch their hand to get money”.
“The responsibility of managing money is also acquired gradually. You can give your child an allowance, making it clear that it is neither a prize nor a gift, but rather the positive consequence for helping at home. Giving him a modest and fixed amount is adequate, as long as you don’t give him more if he runs out and teach him to save”.Psychologist Fernando Pineda
Translated by: Ligia M. Oliver Manrique de Lara
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