CHORES are a good way for kids to learn vital life skills for adulthood.
And while there's no set age for them to start, childcare experts reckon kids as young as two can begin helping around the house.
The good news is, little ones often love the opportunity to help mum or dad – so getting them involved with chores as young as possible is good for them and you.
Lynsey Crombie, the Queen of Clean, says: "There are plenty of cleaning toys on the market aimed at toddlers to get them used to household tasks.
"A young child loves a duster and will copy [their parents]. Learning these skills at a young age will set [them up] for life. "
While it's tempting to use kids as a way to tick off your to-do list though, Sophie Giles, parenting and behavioural consultant and founder of the Gentle Start Family Consultancy said you should avoid dumping jobs on them simply because you don't want to do it.
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"What you really don’t want to do with chores, at any age (unless they’re deliberately messing them up), is to flag that it’s not done well enough," Sophie said.
“Because then you’re telling your child that they’re not good enough, which isn’t great for their self-esteem, but also they’re far less likely to want to carry on chores in the future if you’re very critical of them."
For kids, doing chores is a learning experience, so it should always be fun and exciting.
Sophie added: "The minute chores become something that children resent, it’s something that they’re less likely to want to action when they’re older."
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Participating in household chores for two and three-year-olds is more about co-operation.
Some things they could help with include:
- Helping to make beds, plump up the cushions and smooth over the covers
- Putting toys, books and games away where they belong
- Putting their dirty clothes in the laundry basket
- Dry dusting surfaces with a child-friendly duster
For the ages four and five, however, chores could help kids develop mentally too.
They can try things like:
- Helping you with the laundry by matching socks or other smaller tasks
- Sorting the recycling into different types of material (but be careful of glass or breakable items)
Small tasks make kids feel good about themselves and help them develop a little confidence.
"Children have a lot more skills and determination than we think," Lynsey said, so we should allow them to do more.
A good way option for all parties is to allow kids to get involved at meals times.
This could mean helping in the kitchen or simply setting the table before the family sits down to eat.
Suitable tasks could include:
- Setting the table
- Wiping over the table after meals
- Basic food prep including washing fruit and veg
- Washing up with supervision
You could also get them to help with:
- Feeding the pets
- Emptying small wastepaper bins
- Empty the washing machine
- Water plants
- Running the vacuum around (a cordless is preferred so it's safer for the little ones who can easily trip over the cord)
Sophie says doing the washing is great for eight to ten-year-oldstoo because it's a fun sorting activity
Determining what's light, what's dark, reading special labels and following instructions can all be really useful skills.
The pre-teen years can be a little tricky to navigate and it's often when kids need a bit more of a push.
But they still need to help, Lynsey said, so it's about finding new ways to get them involved, without the arguments, of course.
"Reward them and encourage them," Lynsey said.
"Start with them keeping their bedrooms clean and tidy and work from there."
Jobs pre-teens can help with include:
- Polishing the furniture
- Cleaning inside windows
- Helping with the laundry, including hanging out on the line or putting it in the dryer
- Sweeping the garden
- Washing the floor
- Washing up
- Wiping over kitchen and bathroom surfaces
- Rinsing the bath and shower after use
- Stripping their bed ready for washing
It's a good age to start teaching kids about budgeting and money too, Sophie added.
“For the older age group, it’s really about the financial stuff because that’s the stuff that they’re going to need to know later in life and you’ve already taught them how to do the rest,” she said.
You can get your child involved in your weekly food shop, or put them in charge of cooking dinner for the family once a week.
You can give them a budget and have them buy the ingredients themselves.
That way children learn to budget and cook and it keeps them interested.
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As teenagers, the experts say kids should be able to handle any task you throw at them, from cooking to meal planning, mowing the lawn and washing the car too.
Follow Lynsey Queen of Clean on Instagram.
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