Working together at home: tasks for all ages
At what age should we start getting children involved in household chores? Which are the most suitable for each age range? Give them autonomy and teach them how to grow up.
child care22 July 2017
When we have children at home, it is important to make them understand from a young age, that household chores are the responsibility of all members of the family and that helping out is something for everyone, not just mum and dad. Getting them involved little by little will be very beneficial for their personal development, because it will make them feel useful, increase their sense of responsibility and help them become more independent and organised.
Acquiring responsibilities is usually a rather slow process that requires a lot of patience. During this period, we need to take the time to explain the tasks, show them how they are done and encourage them to complete them day after day. And even if it gets difficult, try not to despair when things do not work out well, and above all, that we do not end up doing the tasks we have assigned ourselves.
So suggest that they do something, but do so in a fun way. Sing, laugh, make him laugh, tell them a story, etc. Maybe it'll take a little bit longer, but you are sure to have a great fun. And above all, don't force them. You should make them see that the tasks are something for them to do personally, but without forcing them.
Suggest that they do something, but do so in a fun way.
When to start?
Usually, the younger they are, the more they want to help and do things. After the age of two they begin to develope what is known as a 'symbolic game' that consists, in part, of imitating the actions that adults do in real life. This is a great time to start working together on small tasks.
Between the age of two and the three years, they can start by helping us with very simple things, such as helping out when it's time to collect up the toys, asking them bring us some item within their reach and putting it in the waste bin.
As they grow up, they need to gain more independence. At 4-5 years you can encourage them to dress and wash themselves. This is also a good time for them to learn how to set or clear the table, collect toys or water the plants. Whatever they do, it might be tricky for them to do it well, for which reason it is very important to continue to encourage them so that they keep trying to do it better each time.
At the age of 6 we can start to make them responsible for keeping their rooms organised and tidy and for getting their clothes ready for the following day. At that age they are usually learning to write, so we can take advantage of that to have them write down things we say, such as a shopping list for example.
From the age of 7, they can start making the bed. First on the weekends and then little by little, acquiring the habit of doing it every day. At this age they should already have got used to a few tasks, such as setting the table, more or less as a routine.
At 8-9 years you can encourage them to help out in the kitchen. There are some very simple recipes that you can give them to make such as preparing their breakfast or a dessert. Also, these moments spent in the kitchen are great for instilling good eating habits. They can also fold and store the clean clothes, take the puppy out for a walk or put the shopping away.
As they grow up, their responsibilities should also increase. If we want them to learn a bit of everything, we can create a calendar of tasks, where they alternate and share based on the days of the week, in the case of having siblings.
Their pet, their responsibility
When there are children at home it is common to have a pet. It’s our duty to explain to the kids from a young age that an animal isn't a toy and that they must attend to their food, health and hygiene necessities, which are a great responsibility.
Children, especially if they are the owners of the pet, must gradually learn and acquire the different tasks and obligations involved in being responsible for a pet, and always under the supervision of an adult.
As of 3 years of age, the child can begin to participate in certain pet care tasks, helping to put out food or water for example. In the case of having a dog, they can participate in their brushing. At 6 years old, children should start getting more active in looking after the dog, cleaning the food bowl and being responsible for changing the water in the drinking fountain. At 10-11 years, they can also be held responsible for the daily walks and care that the pet needs.