Engaging young children in household chores has many positive impacts across vast areas of their ongoing development and wellbeing. Studies have shown that involving children in chores and other household activities from a young age is helpful in the following ways:
- Promotion of building skills that enhance independence, self-reliance, and self-esteem
- Making them feel seen and wanted
- Teaching imperative life skills
- Enabling a better work ethic later in life
- Easing workload for parents
- Presenting a possibility for developing motor skills, sensory experiences, other complex skills needed to become functional and thrive as an individual.
Motor and sensory skills that can develop while growing up include:
1. Fine motor skills
- These refer to the coordination between finer muscles in the body.
- When you write, coordination between your fingers and your eyes is in use! In young children, coloring, playing, self-care (like tying shoelaces), eating, etc., all use fine motor skills. They play a crucial role in academic skills in the future.
2. Gross motor skills
These include skills that allow us to perform activities that require larger muscles in the body, like arms, legs, torso, and complete whole-body movements. Activities like running, jumping, swimming, lifting, walking, going up and down the stairs, etc., are all possible due to gross motor skills. These usually develop during childhood through play and physical activities.
3. Sensory processing
It refers to the brain’s process of receiving, interpreting, and effectively using all the information provided by the body’s five senses. Sensory processing and stimulation are essential as all our senses need to work together to make us move, talk, behave, and process in a certain way. Sensory play can develop sensory processing.
Chores that help develop sensory-motor skills
- Laundry chores like folding clothes, rolling towels, etc., help with bilateral coordination.
- Sweeping and mopping the house, wiping the table, cleaning the windows, etc., help with shoulder strength, bilateral coordination, and provides an excellent upper body workout.
- Washing the dishes is a helpful task to develop bilateral coordination.
- Sorting laundry leads to developing visual perception.
- Packing away cutlery from the dinner table can help sort and match skills, which form the building blocks for later math skills.
So, what kind of chores is your child ready for?
The household activities that we ask our children to participate in should be compatible with their age or abilities. Initially, we must keep them short and fun! The parents must provide support and encouragement. That can be done through positive reinforcement in the form of praises, gratitude, appreciation, etc.! Below are examples of some age-appropriate chores:
Ages 2 and 3
- Picking up toys (with help)
- Putting dirty clothes in the laundry basket
- Folding dishcloths
- Putting garbage in the trash can
- Taking the plate to the kitchen
Ages 4 and 5
- Serving food to the pet
- Clearing, setting, and wiping the food table
- Helping with keeping new groceries in their place
- Making their bed in the mornings
- Dusting the room
- Tidy toys into the basket and putting them back in place
- Water plants
Ages 6 to 8
- Folding and putting clean laundry items back in their place
- Taking care of the pet
- Sweeping and mopping
Ages 9 to 12
- Learning to wash the dishes
- Cleaning the bathroom
- Preparing simple meals (for example, a sandwich)
- Babysit younger siblings (with parents present at home)
Ages 13 +
- Clean the fridge
- Babysit younger siblings (in the absence of parents)
- Make more complex meals
- Ironing clothing items
- Help parents with simple home repairs
Making chores fun!
Is there a way to make household chores fun? Absolutely!
- Providing positive reinforcement (appreciation, praises, and gratitude) helps the child feel seen and appreciated while also increasing their motivation.
- Making a game out of the chores can also help, such as singing songs about cleaning up!
- Introduce a points/reward system for household chores, especially with slightly older children. Assign a point to each task; the child can then exchange points for a particular reward they wish for after collecting a pre-set minimum number of points. This system helps in giving the child some reinforcement to look forward to once the tasks are completed!