Experts Suggest Kids Should Start Helping with Household Chores at 18-Months. Do You Agree?

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man and toddler loading dishwasher

Did you regularly do chores as a kid?

Growing up, Saturday was THE designated chore day in our house. We washed and folded endless amounts of laundry 🧺, swept and mopped sticky floors 🧹, cleaned dirty toilets 🚽, and made sure the house was in tip-top shape 🏡. Not to mention washed cars, mowed the lawn and pulled weeds. And NO, we usually were not having guests over that day. That’s just how it was for our family of five! 🙃 Does this sound familiar?

messy bedroom

You too may have grown up having the same routine. But are kids today helping out around the house as much as we did back then? Experts say many parents these days who grew up doing chores, opt not to give their kids any chores since their kids are busy doing sports, schoolwork, or other obligations.

In fact, according to a previous poll conducted by Braun Research and commissioned by Whirlpool, 82% of American parents surveyed said they regularly did chores as kids, but only 28% give their own kids chores now. 😱

girl putting dirty clothes in the laundry chute cabinet in bathroom

However, eliminating chores may not be a good idea.

According to Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a pediatrician and child development expert, “chores are the key to building character and instilling morals.” In fact, as mentioned in this article, Dr. Gilboa encourages parents to bring back chores to children’s lives to “avoid raising a generation of jerks.”

But, are you wondering which chores are appropriate for children and at what ages? According to this article, Dr. Gilboa believes kids can and should be doing things around the house by the following ages (you can find more resources on her website, Ask Doctor G).

Here’s a handy guide for age-appropriate chores:

  • 18 mos-3 years: Gilboa cautions against giving this age group a chore that parents might feel compelled to follow behind them and redo in their footsteps: “That would be a quick way to teach them that they might as well not help at all,” she said. “Let them do one part, like hold the dustpan while you sweep.”

  • 4-5 years old: Kids are entirely capable of doing some tasks alone, but many children this age won’t remember without prompting, Gilboa said. “Hint: tell them to tell you when they’re done,” she said. “This will help to keep them on task, and let you know to check that it was done the way they’ve been taught.”

  • 6-8 years old: “Don’t be afraid to give early elementary children daily chores,” Gilboa said. “Once a week seems easier, but actually building habits is easier if something needs to get done every day. So a repetitive kitchen chore or pet care can be a great choice,” she said.

  • 9-11 years old: At this age, “take advantage of your child’s ability to tackle multi-step projects,” said Gilboa. “These will take a while to learn, but are great for sharpening their planning and problem-solving skills as well as — eventually — taking something off your plate.”

girl holding stack of blankets

  • 12-13 year olds: Your best bet with tweens is to connect a chore to any activity that is important to them, said Gilboa. “If your child loves to eat, dinner or breakfast prep is a great chore,” she said. “If they need a lot of rides to activities, then cleaning out the car regularly is a good task.”

  • 14-15 year olds: Pick a household chore you really don’t like to do and delegate it to your teenagers, said Gilboa. Kids this age used to hold full-time jobs, she pointed out, and “they can certainly handle making dinner for the whole family once a week or tackling larger projects around the house.”

  • 16-18 year olds: Once your children are driving age and looking at graduating from high school, it’s time to make sure they have all the life skills they will need to handle daily life once they leave your home, said Gilboa. “Cooking, cleaning, car maintenance, even getting them involved in bill-paying … make sure they’re ready to adult!” she said. (And don’t forget the laundry!)

What do you think – do you agree or disagree with experts?

Check Out These Tips & Tricks to Keep Your House Spotless (Even With Kids)!

Join The Discussion

Comments 15

  1. Lisa

    What an important reminder! I definitely don’t want to raise a generation of entitled jerks…. I want the kids who are happy to pitch in, rather than watch everyone else do the work while they stand around. I heard a quote years ago that went something like this: ” Children need to be needed, and not just loved.” I think there is so much truth in that! Positive self esteem comes from knowing you are a vital team member, and your help is needed! My older children are pretty good at chores, and one of my teens is an awesome cook. I think there is a time when we just have to work through it and not give up. The kids may not totally be on board with the idea of chores at first. Thanks for reminding me to keep working with my younger kids. My older ones are a great reminder that it was worth it to teach chores and not give up!

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      Totally agree and I love that quote, Lisa! ❤️ Sounds like you are doing an awesome job with your kiddos!

    • Sara

      My positive self-esteem has never been dependent on anyone else.

  2. shellie

    How can I get my 6 year old to start doing chores? He won’t even feed the pet for money.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Hi Shellie! Maybe find a certain game, treat, show or activity that he does like. That will sometimes work to motivate my kiddos when they don’t seem interested in certain chores. Hope that helps!

  3. Melissa

    Absolutely! They need to know things are expected of them and that they aren’t going to be waited on hand and foot. Start ’em young and you will be much better off. Everyone pitches in because we ALL live in the house together.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Melissa! I agree! It’s great for everyone to pitch in!

  4. Nikky

    I COMPLETELY AGREE!!! I was actually the opposite…I didn’t grow up doing chores and wish my mom HAD a routine of having us do chores. When asked, my mom always said, it was just easier doing the chores the right way and not having to take the extra time to teach us HOW to do them. Unfortunately, I remember mom exploding in anger and taking it out on us when the chores became too much for her as well as a full time job. I would feel terrible and yet I dreaded helping because their was no consistency or training us in how she wanted things done. As I went out in the world, I felt embarrassed that I didn’t know how to do simple things such as separating the laundry, grocery shopping etc. Yes….I eventually learned and I certainly don’t fault my mom for giving us the easy way out….but I think it could have been so much better to have contributed in helping with the chores growing up. My kids comment that they feel good that they are able to cook their own meals, make their school lunches, etc. When it comes time to them getting a job, I want their future employers to view them as ahead of the curve so that they are looked at for promotions, management positions, etc. It’s also a consequence when I hear, “Mom I’m bored……” To which I reply… “no problem, I’ve got plenty of chores for you to do!” “Naaaw….I’m good!” Thank-you for posting this!

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      You are so welcome and thanks so much for the feedback, Nikky! We appreciate hearing about your experience.

  5. Sara

    My parents tried getting me to do chores several times. I would do them for a few days before losing interest. I wouldn’t even do them for money.

    The problem is that I have ADHD and ODD. I don’t do household tasks unless it randomly piques my interest. It has to be done on a whim. If I think about it, it won’t happen.

    I learned how to do these tasks later on by either watching my parents or just asking them what to do when I couldn’t figure out how to do it on my own. They weren’t difficult to learn.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks so much for letting us know what worked best for you when learning to do chores, Sara! My kids often lose interest in chores too! I find some days are much more productive than others.

  6. Paris013

    My daughter just turned 2 in April and I’ve been having her help me unload the dishwasher (handing me the silverware and bottom shelf items at close range), clean up her shoes and dirty clothes, bring me her (small) laundry bin and put it back, and help push the clean clothes into the dryer when washed. For some reason, cleaning up her toys on a consistent basis has been a real hassle; but that could be because it’s the end of the day.
    Just a few ideas to get some habits started!

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      How sweet! Thanks so much for sharing with us! Glad she has been learning to help out in small ways!

  7. Paris013

    Thinking about it, I think my toddler does more around the house than my husband!! BAHH!!

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      LOL! Too funny!

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