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How Sitters Can Teach Kids How to Do Chores

Tiffany Smith
June 1, 2017

Learn what chores are appropriate for kids of different ages.



According to Natural Family Online, young adults who had household chores as 3- or 4-year-olds were more successful as adults than those who didn't. Getting a child to do his chores is just as important as getting him dressed in the morning or in bed at night. If you care for a child every day (or even every other day, or every weekend), you should establish a routine that dictates his tasks. First, of course, you'll need to figure out what, if anything, his parents have already decreed. Ask the following questions:

  • What chores does your child perform? When does he perform them?
  • Are there any chores he should not perform?
  • What are the consequences if he refuses to do his chores?
  • What are the rewards?

If parents haven't picked chores -- and don't mind you doing so -- choose a few age-appropriate tasks from the following list.

Ages 2 - 3

  • Help pull up the covers when you make the bed
  • Pick up toys
  • Hang clothes on hooks
  • Wipe up small spills
  • Carry the newspaper or mail

Ages 4 - 5

  • Put clothes in drawers
  • Sort clean laundry
  • Wipe baseboards with baby wipe.
  • Dust windowsills (a sock on his hand makes this job more fun!)

Ages 6 - 9

  • Feed a pet
  • Set napkins and silverware on the table
  • Water plants
  • Make his bed
  • Help with meal prep (tearing lettuce, hand-mixing ingredients, etc.

Ages 10 - 12

  • Sweep with a child-sized broom and dustpan
  • Sort dirty laundry
  • Vacuum with a hand-held vacuum cleaner
  • Help make snacks
  • Empty small trashcans into a big garbage bag

Ages 13 and Up

  • Change light bulbs
  • Wash inside of windows with paper towels and non-toxic cleaning products (a mixture of one part vinegar to four parts water works great!)
  • Help put groceries away
  • Prepare part of meal -- start with a side dish or dessert
  • Clean sinks and toilets
  • Take out trash

To help your charge enjoy his chores, make games out of them whenever possible. See how fast he can make the bed or whether he can sort dirty laundry without any mix-ups. Get tips from our article on 8 Ways to Have Fun Cleaning

Be firm. Establish a routine and don't waver. Make sure a child knows what is expected of him, and what will happen if your expectations aren't met.


Tiffany Smith is the senior associate editor here at Care.com. She has written for All You, Time for Kids and the Boston Globe. And as a former babysitter, she knows a lot about fun games to play with kids. Getting them to eat their veggies -- that’s a different story! Follow her on Twitter at @tiffanyiswrite

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