Skip to main content
Child DevelopmentParenting

Start ’em young!

By October 15, 2011No Comments

A_girl_doing_choresChores. It’s what we’re talking about today. Why? Because kids need chores. They need to grow up from an early age to understand that we all have responsibilities and being responsible is a very satisfying character trait to have. It may not feel good to stop and do what needs to be done, but it does feel good to work your way through a list or project and look back and say, “I did it!” I actually had a pediatrician ask of my child at a yearly check-up, “And, do you have chores?” Being responsible is healthy!

Now, here’s where you can go very, very wrong: “But, she’s too little to do anything or understand.” It’s never too early to bring attention to the many tasks that do everyday and making–even a small way– for your little one to help. Another thing to consider; the longer you wait to institute some sort of chore system, the sassier they get about resisting! Ve must make little vorkers of them vhile they are young!

Kidding (and bad accents) aside, the amount of work they do is not as important as the discipline of doing it and giving “a full scoop.” Now, “a full scoop” came about in our house when my husband sat the kids down and brought to their attention that leaving trash on the floor around the trash can after it’s been emptied, or making a bed but not putting the pillows on the bed, were half-way jobs. He asked them how they would feel if they ordered a scoop of ice cream and only got half of a scoop? Having appealed to their gluttonous side, they got the picture and from then on, always gave a full scoop of responsibility every time! Pffft, ya right, I wish. Nevertheless, it is a commonly used phrase in our house that communicates the necessary.

Tracking chores is a very personal decision. I say that, because I think I have tried and invented every possible scenario for tracking chores and still haven’t found a perfect system. I have determined that it has to be simple, conveniently located (for you) and graphically interesting. Chores for them can become a chore for you, but let’s face it, who’s goal is it to raise spoiled, thankless, irresponsible children? So find a system that “entertains” you and change it up every six weeks to keep things interesting. Decide if you’re paying allowances or if it’s just part of being part of a family. A popular rule of thumb for cash allowance is half their age per week–for doing ALL of their chores, not just for breathing for the week! You could also have a prize basket or a point system that they can cash in for dates with Dad, special treats, an extra play at the park, etc.


Here's and example of a way to rotate the chores among the kids.

Here are some simple printable traditional chore charts and some good ideas for types of chores for different ages. Or, there’s a cute wooden, magnetic one by Doug and Melissa.

Spend some money or no money on your system, but spend some time and effort toward encouraging the the value of responsibility and the self-satisfaction that comes with it. Don’t beat yourself up if you peter out after a few weeks, either! Like any discipline, it takes practice and is worth the effort. And don’t forget the Clean Up Song from Kindermusik!

This post brought to you by Jenny Leggett, who always does a full-scoop with her own chores. :/