How to Get Started with Chores for Little Kids

Getting started with chores for little kids is easier than you think! 

Did you do chores as a kid? Chances are you had a list, whether it was making your bed every day, unloading the dishwasher, or helping to take care of the family pet. And while you may not have enjoyed doing those things, you should call your parents right now and thank them for making you do them.

Why? Because kids who do chores are more successful adults, according to research.

So after you've called to thank your mom (or dad or grandma or whoever kept you on track) for making you do those chores, you need to figure out a way to lay that same path for your own children. Fortunately, little kids love to be helpers and if you follow these tips you'll be able to get your kids started with chores in a positive, engaging way.

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Giving your children household responsibilities at an early age helps build self-esteem and encourages them take an active role in the family. Chores are an important part of helping kids to learn important life skills, and should be used as a way for children to feel capable and independent. Assigning chores should never be punitive, and instead should help the youngest family members get started in a way that makes them eager to contribute.

If you're ready to get started with chores for your little kids, here are some ways to make it a positive experience for everyone.

Give your child choices

There are many chores even toddlers can do well. To help them feel more independent and transition into household duties, start by giving them options to choose from. Start with a list of three chores and have your child choose one. Once they are in the routine of completing this task every day, you can expand to a list of five choices and have them choose three.

Start with chores like taking care of pets, putting away non-breakable dishes and silverware, picking up toys, putting clothes in the hamper, and helping with simple laundry tasks like matching socks or folding small towels.

Create a chore chart

Kids need visual reminders of what is expected of them each day, whether it's getting ready in the morning or completing their chores. We've set up a kids' command center in our house that includes a chore chart for my boys. You can see our set up here, or get more ideas for DIY chore charts here.

Set Expectations

 Even though your child may be able to choose which chores will go on their list, make sure they understand completing the chores in a timely manner is a must. Set your expectations early on: what needs to be done before leaving school, before playtime, and before bedtime? Giving them a clear to do list is key to help them understand how chores fit into their day. You can find a morning and afternoon checklist in our command center set to help with this.

You also need to set expectations for when a chore is considered complete. For example, toys should be put back in their proper place, not just dumped in a pile. See how we organize our playroom to make this easier for everyone.

Lead by Example

If you expect your child to clean up their messes and contribute to work to make the household run smoothly, show them how you do the same. Hang up your clothes, put dirty ones in the hamper, rinse your dishes, and discard clutter. Do these 5 things every day to keep your house clean and organized and you'll be well on your way.

Showing your child that you too are responsible for keeping a clean home will help them understand the importance of contributing to household chores, and that everyone in the family is part of the team.

Value their Work

Encourage your children to see the value in the chores that they do. Thank them when they have done a good job, and if they fall short, help them to improve without criticism.

Point out how happy they make their pet when he is given his favorite meal on time. Show them that toys don't get lost or broken when they are put away in the right spot.  Explain that when they do their chores right away, there is more time to play and enjoy activities as a family.

I'm not a fan of paying for chores, but you can set up a system where the entire family is able to enjoy a special treat on the weekends, like movie night or ice cream, when the chore chart is completed for the week.

Let your children know that everyone in the family is part of a team, and their contribution is important to make the family run smoothly. Instilling independence and appreciation for a job well done is one of the best gifts that you can give to your children.

Getting your kids started with chores does not need to be painful. A little preparation will help the process of assigning the first household tasks to your kids be a positive learning experience, and one that they will carry throughout their lives.

Want to try a fun way to get started with chores? Check this out!

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