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Helping With Chores: What Age is The Best To Start?

Mummies of toddlers, you may notice your little one starting to take a keen interest in what you’re doing around the house.

Children learn best by observing and mimicry, especially when they’re smaller, so you’ll start to notice your little one pretending to cook in their play kitchen, pretending to hoover if they have a toy vacuum cleaner, and perhaps even chucking things into the washing machine (even if they don’t need washing)!

So, this leads to the question; what age is appropriate to introduce basic tasks to your child?

It’s important to remember that asking your little one to help isn’t comparable to ‘Cinderella’… it doesn’t mean that you’re enforcing menial labour on your child!

There’s so many angles to consider here; what one parent deems ‘appropriate’ may not be what another parent agrees with, and one child may not understand as much as another child of the same age, so this isn’t a one size fits all thing! Fundamentally, you know your little one best, so if you think it’s a good time to get them involved and know what tasks they’ll understand, go for it!

We asked the parents over in our online community to share what age they feel is right to start introducing some ‘age appropriate’ tasks around the house – with the fact that it’s more mimicry that will probably need redoing by you when they’re not looking when they’re younger – and the results were…

1+: 2.5%

2+: 63%

3+: 17%

4+: 13%

5+: 3%

6+: 0.5%

7+: 1%

So, results show that the majority of our community think that it’s great to get toddlers involved around the house! Personally, I’ve been letting my son wipe down windows and doors with a cloth since he was about two years old, and he can put away his own toys. He also enjoys helping me do the laundry.

One of our members told us that she is a “strong believer of start as you wish to go on”, which we think is spot on; teaching them these skills is such a fabulous way for them to learn how to contribute to their household and teaches them to take pride in the tasks that are their role!

Our colleague Bethany pointed out “I wouldn’t say a child of any age *should* do housework. If they show interest, I will show them what to do”, which is a great angle to look at it from. Actively showing an interest is a good sign that they’re ready to help, and this will happen at varying ages depending on your child.

What appropriate chores can a child help with?

The parents in our community had so many different suggestions! The most popular appropriate tasks for children were;

  • Tidying away their own toys.
  • Putting clothes into the washing machine.
  • Putting pots and pans in the cupboard.
  • Helping out with basic (and safe!) aspects of food preparation.
  • Setting the table.
  • Wiping windows, doors and surfaces.
  • Sorting recycling.
  • Polishing.
  • Dusting.
  • Washing up (without sharp knives in the bowl).

Remember – in early childhood, it’ll be more rudimentary and more a case of them wanting to be like mummy and daddy rather than it being a 100% effective attempt, but you may be lucky!

What are the benefits of giving my child some responsibility over a household chore?

As we mentioned previously, children absorb knowledge through observation and mimicry, so you’re setting them up to learn skills that will be useful in future as well as giving that sense of pride and achievement that comes with completing a task. This article by Michigan State University highlights the benefits well…

  • “Confidence and self-efficacy can improve as your child learns and uses their abilities to achieve a chore goal.”
  • “Additionally, children can learn to feel pride in their work when they are reminded that their chores help everyone in the family.”
  • “Work around the house and tackling new chores also teaches children life-skills that will help them stay on task and be productive for the rest of their lives.”

As we’ve also pointed out, Michigan State University agrees that your child’s own level of cognitive development will mean that they may or may not understand and be ready to start helping out, it will depend on your individual child and what instructions/concepts they understand!

What age do YOU think is appropriate for a little one to get stuck in? Tell us in the comments!

Love from Katie & Team BBY. Xx

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