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Chores and Teaching Kids Independence

Chores with Kids

Building into our children’s routine independence is important for our growing family as well as their character. Giving them opportunities to build their confidence creates a happy child. In addition, my father in law told me once, “As parents, our job is not to do anything for our kids that they know how to do themselves.” As a new mom, I was not that supportive of this philosophy, until now. In other words, when they are 13, you shouldn’t be squeezing the tooth paste on their toothbrushes anymore.

Opening the door to independence also means letting go of control. This can be challenging and SUPER frustrating for those that are rushing out the door or who hate messes. Anyone really happy about the play dough colors mixing? My husband does NOT enjoy that happening! But letting Eleanor and Amelia put the dough back inside the containers is something so easy to begin with at their ages. Isn’t the most important thing not worrying about messes or rushing to this or that errand, but shaping the character of our  kids? (Easier said than done and it takes practice).

Chore Guidelines

Always Demonstrate: Instead of “I can’t do it!” insist on “You can’t do it yet, but you will!”

4 – 5 Year Old Chores

Starting young, we asked Everett to begin dressing himself, be responsible for taking his plate to the sink after a meal and cleaning up toys. In the beginning, this was not something that came easy.  Picking out clothes was a nightmare, plates were sometimes thrown on the floor, and let’s not forget the Legos spilled across every surface of our home. With time, and positive encouragement, he has really mastered those tasks and moved on to some additional ones.

  • Make his bed (I took off the sheet, and he only has the quilt. This makes it easier)
  • Dressing himself (Some days he went to school with his shirt inside out and backwards, but I never said anything)
  • Sweep the kitchen floor (When he volunteers these chores, I NEVER refuse)
  • Take the trash bins after the garbage truck comes
  • Vacuum the car
  • Brush and floss teeth (the correct way)
  • Putting the helmet back on his bike when finished riding
  • Throwing dirty clothes into the laundry (It’s taken 9 months, but I think he finally mastered it)
  • Hang backpack on the mud room hook
  • *Hoping to add this summer, rinsing the dish in the sink after a meal and putting clean clothes in his drawers


Chores with the kids

2- 3 Year Old Chores

Our middle child has always been eager to help with any task. Since 18 months, she has been at the kitchen sink washing the dishes. However, Eleanor has a famous excuse for not helping clean up the toys. “Mommy, I had lots and lots of cupcakes and I can’t”. I have no idea where that originated from, but I must admit how amusing it is. She has never had a hard time getting dressed, because she changes her clothes thirty five times a day. Since she is a little more quiet, I really love to give her positive affirmations often – especially with her unyielding helpfulness.

  • Putting on her shoes (Attempting first, then helping. No laces)
  • Potty Training
  • Bringing the plate to the kitchen counter after a meal
  • Putting toys in a basket
  • House chores (sweeping, mopping, cleaning a window)
  • Unloading the dishwasher
  • Buckling seat-belt (Always double check for safety)
  • Set the table
  • Feed the dogs
  • Water flowers
  • Help with the groceries, especially the produce

Chores ideas for 2 year olds

18 Months – 2 Year Old Chores

Always supervised

This age group is tricky. There may be some that are learning to walk still. However, making a game of cleaning up the toys can be very fun for this age group. Amelia really loves to organize and clean up toys. Maybe it’s the third child, but she will also play independently by herself without getting into any mischief and I praise her for that.

  • Feeding themselves
  • Dish washing
  • Loading the laundry into the dryer
  • Picking up toys
  • Feed the dogs
  • Water flowers
  • Washing the deck (This can be with a paintbrush and soapy water)

Chore Ideas for Little Kids

I would love to hear from veteran moms. What chores did I miss? What are your tips to teach kids to work? Check out my Pinterest Board for some ideas too!



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1 Comment

  • Reply
    July 9, 2017 at 10:11 pm

    Thanks, great article.

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