Chores for Children: From Toddlers to Teens

As a parent of two boys, an 18-year old who has just started college and an 8-year old who is on the autism spectrum, I’m well acquainted with the endless list of chores that’s needed to keep a household going. There used to be a time when I preferred to do most of the chores myself, because the job would get done faster and to my liking. But there’s no denying the many benefits of teaching children how to help out around the home.

Doing chores not only plays a crucial role in a child’s development, it can also help families to work better together, which reduces stress. The key is to start our children off with small tasks from a young age, and gradually work up to more complicated chores. By the time they’re teenagers, our children will be able to manage most of what we can do at home.

The many benefits of having children carry out chores include:

  • It makes them feel important (sense of self and purpose)
  • It instils essential life skills  
  • It helps develop a solid work ethic
  • It fosters responsibility and self-reliance
  • It gives them gratification, self-confidence, dignity, and knowledge
  • It helps them learn about health and safety
  • It helps them learn to take care of themselves and others 
  • It helps ease the workload for parents

What chores can children do?


With guidance and supervision, children aged between 2 and 3 years are able to perform simple tasks around the home, such as:  

  • Putting their toys away 
  • Placing clothes in the laundry basket
  • Wiping up spills 
  • Filling up a cat or dog’s food bowl 
  • Stacking light books and magazines on shelves or tables 
  • Helping to load the washer and dryer 
  • Mopping small areas with a dry mop 

By the age of 4 to 5 years, your child’s hand-eye coordination and ability to follow more complex instructions will have improved. They’ll be able to carry out some tasks on their own, without supervision. Some duties that are suited to preschoolers are:

  • Making their bed without supervision
  • Clearing the table 
  • Putting away clean utensils 
  • Assisting an older sibling with setting the table 
  • Watering the plants
  • Pulling weeds 
  • Using a hand-held vacuum for crumbs or room edges 
  • Washing plastic dishes with supervision 
  • Helping to bring in light groceries 
  • Sorting laundry into whites and colours before wash 
  • Matching socks together 
  • Dusting with a cloth 
  • Caring for a pet’s food and water dish 

Primary schoolers
By primary school age (ages 6 to 9), your child will be developing skills that enable them to handle more physically challenging tasks and take on much more responsibility without supervision. They are usually capable of performing the following tasks: 

  • Cleaning their bedrooms, with minimal supervision 
  • Sweeping floors 
  • Putting away groceries
  • Loading and emptying the dishwasher 
  • Vacuuming 
  • Wiping down counters and sinks 
  • Making themselves snacks/breakfast 
  • Helping a parent prepare dinner 
  • Wiping the table after meals 
  • Folding and put away their laundry 
  • Wet mopping the floor 
  • Emptying indoor trash bins into the kitchen trash 


Children aged 10 to 13 can perform many tasks independently and be held responsible for them without constant reminders. Task lists and chore charts can help them be responsible for themselves. Preteens should be able to do the following chores: 

  • Washing the dishes or loading the dishwasher without assistance 
  • Washing the family car 
  • Preparing simple meals without assistance 
  • Using the clothes washer and dryer 
  • Taking trash to the bins 
  • Taking trash bins to the curb 
  • Babysitting younger siblings with parents at home 


From the age of 14 onwards, your child can do nearly any household task. Doing chores not only helps them to develop essential life skills, but prepares them for independence in the future. Here are examples of chores that your teen can do: 

  • Cleaning out the fridge 
  • Helping to deep clean kitchen (appliances and cabinets) 
  • Cleaning the toilet, sink, and shower in the bathroom 
  • Cleaning windows 
  • Babysitting younger siblings independently (for short periods) 
  • Mowing the lawn 
  • Caring for pets independently 
  • Making more complex meals 
  • Accomplishing small shopping trips alone
  • Ironing clothes 
  • Resewing buttons on clothing 
  • Helping parents with simple home or auto repairs

Considerations for children with developmental delays and disabilities

While my eldest was able to steadily learn and master household chores throughout his childhood to teenage years, things are different for my youngest, who has Autism Spectrum Disorder. I have had to take into consideration the physical, sensory and cognitive challenges that he faces, before teaching him how to do chores. 


Unlike his neurotypical peers, he struggles with fine and gross motor skills, and sometimes finds it difficult to understand and follow instructions. His sensory seeking and avoiding, rigidity in doing things his way, need for routines and difficulty in transitioning between tasks, can also cause him to become overwhelmed by certain aspects of a task. Therefore, he needs a lot of practice to learn, master and retain the skills needed to perform certain tasks, before he is ready to learn how to tackle chores. 


It is important to note, however, that children with developmental delays and disabilities thrive in environments where they are given opportunities to succeed. Completing chores can give them a sense of accomplishment and build their self esteem, as they’re able to actively contribute. As you engage your child by guiding them through the chores, it also helps them to feel a sense of belonging and build a bond with you, as you spend time together.

In addition to your patience, nurturing and guidance, interventions such as Early Intervention Programmes (EIP), paediatric therapy and learning support can also help build your child’s strengths, while helping them to develop life-skills, such as those needed to perform chores.

Helpful hints

  • Modelling chores for your child can help them understand what is expected.
  • If necessary, model using the hand-over-hand method.
  • Start small and slowly build up to more complex tasks when your child is ready. 
  • Implement a reward system by creating a chart that the child can mark off as they accomplish a task. 
  • Be patient and consistent with your expectations.

Should you have any concerns about developmental delays, or feel that your child may need extra help in learning and mastering life skills like performing chores, please don’t hesitate to consult one of our paediatric specialists. We are here to support you and maximise your child’s potential.

This article was reviewed by The Energy Source’s Director, Physiotherapist and Sensory Practitioner, Joanna Hutt.

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