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Age-appropriate chores for young children (and older children) are so important – with or without a chore chart!  They help raise children that work hard and are not spoiled.

It’s the reason that we use these Printable Chore Cards because they teach kids that they have to do their chores in order to have downtime.  they literally “swap chores for screentime.”

swap chores for screentime
  The picture above is our basket of Swap Chores for Screen Time Cards

As Lythcott-Haims said: “By making them do chores — taking out the garbage, doing their own laundry — they realize I have to do the work of life in order to be part of life. It’s not just about me and what I need at this moment.

If kids aren’t doing the dishes, it means someone else is doing that for them, and so they’re absolved of not only the work but of learning that work has to be done and that each one of us must contribute for the of the whole.”

When everyone pitches in and does their part, they add their contributions to the family.  It is a life skill that they will never lose (and you can teach it without using a hard-to-manage chore chart or a chores app for kids).

Child doing chores with dad  standing in a kitchen

Kids Who Do Chores Grow Up To Be More Successful & Happier Adults

Do If you really want your kids to grow up to be successful, happy, and responsible adults?   Give them chores while they are young.  Science proves it’s the key!

In the longest-running study in history, the Harvard Grant study set out to determine:  “DOES DOING A CHORE REALLY BENEFIT A CHILD?”  The answer was yes.   The study proves that kids benefit from chores. 

This study started in 1938 and has continued to this day.

A study that has spanned more than 80 years has to be taken seriously, right?   The researches of the study found that people need to have two things in their lives to be successful and happy as adults:

1-  LOVE

“And what’s the best way to develop a work ethic in young people? Based on the experiences of the 724 high-achievers who were part of the study (including people like future-President Kennedy and Ben Bradlee, the Watergate-era editor of The Washington Post) there’s a consensus.

A “pitch-in” mindset

“[The study] found that professional success in life, which is what we want for our kids … comes from having done chores as a kid,” says Julie Lythcott-Haims, in her 20XX TED talk.

“The earlier you started, the better,” Lythcott-Haims continued. (You can see her whole TED talk here.)  “[A] roll-up-your-sleeves- and-pitch-in mindset, a mindset that says, there’s some unpleasant work, someone’s got to do it, it might as well be me … that that’s what gets you ahead in the workplace.” -Bill Murphy Jr,

The High-Achievers all had a “pitch-in” mindset 

The best way to teach children to have a good work ethic is to teach them to do chores, and expect that they complete them well.

A research team at the University of Minnesota completed a 20-year span.  They were looking for the best predictor of adult success.

Their result?   They found that if they had begun doing chores at an early age… as young as 3 or 4, they were the most successful.    Those children had learned about work ethic at a young age.

It’s never too late to start.

chores by age

Children need responsibility!  They want responsibility! These Age-Appropriate chores for kids by age are great because they are teaching responsibility & hard work.  It’s a win-win.

While I gave up on a chore chart for kids, I found a solution that is so much better – “swap chores for screentime cards.”

Why Do Kids Need To Help Out by Doing A chore (or several)?

  • They help kids feel needed.
  • They give them a feeling of importance.
  • They help children learn responsibility
  • They teach independence.
  • They create a work ethic in our children that will help build that character that we want them to have.
  • It helps to cut back on entitlement.
  • Family chores help kids learn to work together.
  • Children learn to help out the family, leaving more time to PLAY as a family. If your children learn to help now, you will have children that will be able to work later, allowing them the ability to work hard and keep a job or work hard to keep their marriage strong.

As hard as it is, do not do everything for your children! Let them do what they can.   Remember the quote: fish for me & feed me for a day…. teach me to fish & feed me for a lifetime.

age appropriate chore list for kids

Children need to be taught how to do the chore first.

Before I begin with our list of age-appropriate chores for children, you need to know that your children were not born knowing how to do these tasks. You must walk them through it, teach them how you want it done.

Young children will be watching you in order to learn how to do the tasks correctly, but your older children may attempt it on their own.

I always suggest walking them through the household tasks before expecting them to do it well on their own.  Do this with each chore until you have gone through them all (just do one or two a day).

Do I need a Chore Chart?

I gave up on chore charts a long time ago.  Why?  It is because I found chore charts for kids were more work than they were helpful.  I had tried chore apps that let kids earn points, we tried a chore pad, we tried assigning chores by days of the week, etc…

When we were using a chore chart, I felt like I was constantly trying to keep rotating them, etc…  I had tried finding great ideas on blog posts and in books, but nothing seemed to be what I was looking for.

Finally, one day I tossed our chore chart, chore chart templates, chore chart printable, and chore chart ideas.

I made these chore cards instead and I’ll never go back to another chore chart again.   The Chore Cards that we made were my best idea to date (I hope that doesn’t sound braggy… it’ just works so well!) and I’ve NEVER looked back.

How do the chore cards work better than a chore chart?

Our kids do a chore (or several) in exchange for screentime (and even if you don’t use the screen-time part, the chore cards alone are a life-changer!)    The jobs listed on the card are household tasks or outdoor tasks that need to be done.

NOTE: In our house, if they do not want screen time, they still need to help out.  They can use their screen time minutes for something else (whatever you decide).  The Swap Chore for Screen Time Cards have been a game-changer.

Cards to swap chores for screen time by yourmodernfamily

How do the Cards work in place of a chore chart? 

The cards are cut up and placed in a basket or jar.   It is literally the easiest set-up because I didn’t want to add any more confusing systems to the mix.

Swap screentime for chores cards
The basket or jar is then placed somewhere so the kids can easily reach it (we keep ours in the pantry).   When it is time to help out,  they grab the basket themselves & bring it to the table. They close their eyes, reach in, and pick from the basket.   It is such a simple way to give out children’s chores & to maintain a routine.

Chore Amount for each age group: 

This is split into different kid chores by age

  • The 3 and 4-year-old will pick out one chore.
  • A 5-6-year-old will pick out two cards
  • A 7-8-year-old would pick out two to three cards
  • Ages 9 & above get three cards from the basket & a few more difficult ones

Chore Ideas for tween & teens:  Age Appropriate Chore List for 9 years to 12 years

I have our older sons pick several chore cards, as they are much older.   You can also keep a basket for their chore cards, separate from the younger children.

I often hear these questions

  • Do you have a chore list that 12-Year-old can follow?
  • Do you have a chore list for what a 13-year-old be doing?
  • What tasks and jobs should a 14-year-old be doing?

My Answer:  Pretty much any chore, as long as they are responsible enough to do it safely.  At this age, a child can handle doing the more difficult tasks and they deserve the confidence from you to try.   Be sure to give them rules and show them exactly how to do it.


  • Cleaning the garage
  • Being assigned a bathroom to take care of
  • Clean & detail vehicles inside & out
  • Mowing the lawn (to be honest, our sons love to cut the grass)
  • Clean glass items that may be too fragile for younger children
  • Take the dog on a walk
  • Scrubbing windows or floors
  • Washing the car
  • Yardwork
  • Ironing Clothes
  • Cooking breakfast, making lunch, helping with dinner
  • Setting the table without being reminded.
  • Help a younger sibling with something.
  • Babysitting a younger sibling.
  • Changing their sheets
  • Washing (or at least folding) laundry
  • Do something to help you while they are learning the important skills to become an adult. (Example: making the grocery list for the week in order to learn to budget & plan.)

Child doing chores with dad  standing in a kitchen

Does the Daily Responsibility Count as a Chore for Kids?

In our house, our kids have daily responsibilities that are not “a chore”. 
Examples of responsibilities include:

  • Make bed
  • Clean up after eating
  • Put dirty clothes in the hamper
  • Put clean clothes away
  • Unload the dishwasher as a team
  • Get dressed and brush your teeth without being asked.
  • Keep your shoes in the shoe basket.

Then, they have extra chores that they can pick from the basket to earn Screen Time.

How Often Should Kids Do A Chore?

In our house, the kids’ responsibilities occur daily.  They use these charts to keep up with them.  After using these responsibility charts every day, the kids memorize their responsibilities pretty quickly and they become a habit.

These are separate from their “swap for screentime” jobs.   These are more like habits that have to be done on a daily basis.

Daily Responsibility Charts for Kids
If our kids want screentime, they will also have to find the time to do the task on the card to earn the screentime minutes.

This usually means that our kids are doing extra tasks to earn screentime daily (even if they save time for the weekend)

You can pick how often they do their chore(s):
Daily chore cards or weekends only?  Maybe you choose for your children to or maybe they get more in the summer when they are out of school, etc…

You need to do whatever fits with you, your schedule & what you want for your family.

Daily Responsibilities Not Included

Remember, as I stated above there are many things that are considered to be daily responsibilities.  These are expected to be completed without reminding them or asking them to do them.
Examples include: 

  • “Make your bed”
  • “Clean your room”
  • “empty the dishwasher”

They are daily responsibilities.  They are not on the below list, because they are habits.  We do them daily & they just help to keep the house running smoothly.

Kid doing chores

Printable Chore Chart by Age:

Age grouping for chore ideas lets your child succeed at their specific task because it is based on their development.  You’re welcome to use this chore list for kids (free printable)  as a jumping-off point to find good chores for kids.

This chore chart by age is simply to let you see some examples of the chore or jobs that your children are capable of, with a little practice and a demonstration by you.

You are welcome to print this Chore Chart template for kids.  Just click here to send me your information & I will e-mail you the free chore chart pdf with the best chores for kids by age.
Printable chore chart

Kids Chore Examples: 

  • Clean the shutters behind the kitchen table (their food gets on these from their sticky hands!) 🙂
  • Clean out everything UNDER your bed.
  • Take sheets off of the bed (for younger kids) weekly
  • Take sheets off and replace them with clean sheets (older kids) weekly
  • Do your laundry (older kids)
  • Take your dirty clothes to the laundry room (younger kids)
  • Wipe bathroom sink and vanity in the main bathroom & their bathroom.
  • Clear & clean the table after dinner
  • Sweep hallway upstairs with broom & dustpan
  • Put away ALL shoes in the garage by the door (we have 3 spots for shoes – they each have their own baskets at these places, so it’s easy to do & takes a second to put them away)
  • Clean the outside of the toilet (bottom too) in those same bathrooms.
  • Sweep the kitchen floors
  • Sweep the hallway upstairs
  • Clean out the van (bring in all garbage, coats, shoes…) – I do this same chore on 3 cards, so they could even both get them & do it together.  It’s a big job. 
  • Empty all garbage in the bathrooms and their bedroom into one big garbage bag (getting garbage from all cans)
  • Bring the garbage can up from the street after the garbage truck comes (it might be heavy to take it down while it is filled, but even our four-year-old can bring it up for us when it is empty… and we have a steep driveway).
  • Clean the steps with a broom and then a damp rag (wooden steps).  If you have carpet- have them use a damp sponge to get the dirt or pet hair if you have a pet.  Have them use a small vacuum if you have one (the tiny kind for steps & small areas)
  • Pick up everything on the pantry floor to keep the pantry organized (Some of our organized art supplies are in there, so coloring books and crayons end up on the floors if we don’t stay on top of cleaning it.)
  • Sweep the front porch
  • Sweep the back porch
  • Dust furniture in the room that mom or dad pick (they use a sock on their hands)
  • Pick up toys (even if you didn’t make the mess!) 
  • Organize the mudroom bench (see make a mudroom bench to see how we made it) – they hang up coats, put shoes in the right baskets, hang up their backpacks under the correct name…
    I made this chart for you.

Age Appropriate Chore Ideas for young children

We often find that younger kids’ tasks and chores are a little difficult, due to a lack of development in certain skills.   However, they can still help out around the house.  Here is some information that may help:

For a 3-year-old…   When our 3-year old would pull out a chore card, but I would make up one since he couldn’t read it.  I would say something like “Please pick up the blankets and pillows that are on the floor, and put them away.”   or “Can you put the ice cream away after I scoop it for dessert?” Something easy and safe that he can do without help.

Remember, children want to feel like they are contributing to the family.  They like to feel like they have helped to keep everything going.   They also learn quickly that if they help out, everyone has more time to play and relax together.

I hope that helped you to create some ideas for jobs for your kids. 🙂   I would LOVE to hear what jobs you have your children helping within your home! I am always revisiting our cards and editing them to their ages.

Print The Chore List

Click on the image below to print this list (below) for kids, and I will e-mail you this free chart/list. ☺️
Printable chore chart

Similar Studies and Articles:

I know that it is as much work to get your kids to help you as it is to just do it yourself, but I want to encourage you to read this post – STOP doing that for your kids.   Try to remember that you are raising adults.

Here is the reward system that we use with our kids- it works wonders! 

Here is the way that we teach our kids to clean their rooms… without reminding them!

Are your kids using electronics more & helping out LESS?  

It is time to try something new (and I promise this works): Swap a Chore for Screen Time.
Plus, you no longer have to feel guilty AT ALL about allowing your kids to have some screen-time… they are earning their downtime. 

Cards to swap chores for screen time by yourmodernfamily

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Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. These are great ideas to get the little ones involved in chores!

    Thank you for stopping by the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop this week. We hope to see you drop by our neck of the woods next week!

  2. When my daughter was young she was reponsible for making her own bed. Being only three or four years old, she could not do it very neatly. I would walk by her room and straighten it out. One day she told me ” you know Mom, when you fix my bed it makes me feel like I’m not doing a good job.” she was doing her best and I was telling her that wasn’t good enough. I never fixed her bed again.

  3. I have all our chores drawn as well–written on Popsicle sticks and some of them have a circled T on them (like folding laundry) if someone draws one of these sticks, they also draw a green stick that has a number between 10 and 30 on it (in increments of five). All the sticks are placed in a large soup can that has a smaller can glued inside it. Finished chores go in the little can so they don’t get drawn again. It makes chores a game (thank you, Ms Poppins) even for me!

  4. Hi Becky, I have a very strong-willed 2.5 year old boy (oldest of two) who is definitely ready and capable enough to start chores. How do I even get him to start? Sometimes he cleans up willingly. Many times he just flat out says no or ignores me.if I don’t do it it’ll just sit around. I don’t know how to transition him into doing chores consistently without any fuss… To just make it “something you do”

    1. Just ask him- tell him “grab your plate” every time that he finishes eating. It just becomes a habit. Our daughter turned two in August and she just follows her brothers- it isn’t even like she knew that she had a choice- she just cleans up because it is ‘what we do’, so to say. I would just make it as common as using a fork. 🙂

  5. my son is 2 1/2. He helps feed his fish, pick up laundry and put it in the hamper, helps put the wash in and out of the washer (front loader) he picks up his toys, he ‘sweeps’ up with a hand broom, he puts dishes in the sink, heck, he will even carry mommy and daddy’s to the sink if we don’t get on it when he thinks we should, had to curb him from taking plates with food still in it! He throws out garbage when asked, picks up his bathroom toys. Some of these things he just naturally wanted to do, and we encouraged him and help him, they toys we make a game out of it. Lots of cheering. Now if potty training would just go smoother…

  6. Question. What did you do when they wouldn’t do their chores? And, during school days when do you have them do the chores, before or after school?

    1. They didn’t get ANY privileges. No snacks in between meals, no electronics at all, no playing with friends, etc…

      On school days- they do the dishwasher as a group in the morning. They do the rest after dinner, all at the same time. 🙂

  7. My 15 month helps put toys away, well we help her. She thinks shes oretty cleaver lol

  8. I just found your site and I love it!

    How do your children help unload the dishwasher? Most of the things I put in our dishwasher are stored in the upper cabinets: cups, plates, and tupperware.

    Also, do you keep a stool near the sink so they can prerinse their dishes before putting them in the dishwasher?

    1. Oh! check out my series on 40 days to organization (I talk about how I have my kitchen organized). I keep their plates, bowls and cups in the lower cabinets. They do pre-rinse their bowls themselves. (They just open the cabinet door & stand on the bottom of it)

  9. Dear Becky,

    I’d LOVE to be only a little bit as organized as you are!

    Please tell me: how do you structure your family days: WHEN do you let your kids do their chores?

    Lots Greetings from Switzerland,

    1. Our kids do their chores before & after school. Before school: Make beds, put clothes away.
      After school: Help with dinner/dishes/dishwasher, pick up toys.
      I save the big chores for Saturday & we just spend a few hours doing them as a family on the weekend. 🙂

  10. What time do you have them pick out of the basket during the day. We are having trouble even finishing homework in time for bed let alone adding 2 chores. I really want to get them more involved but it just seems like there isn’t enough time. We haven’t even added activities yet. We have a 9, 7, and 3 year old. Thanks!!

    1. I usually have them do them right after homework. Sometimes (if we have sports) we don’t do them that day… just the normal “clean your room, make your bed, clean up after dinner” type of chores.

  11. For the most part I agree with everything you have said. Until I came to the chart that went by age grouping. Now as as a previous child of parents who followed your ideology, I spent the majority of my childhood being free housecleaning with my two brothers. We had a nanny as my parents were military officer and wife and had a reputation to display that perfect home. As a child counselor and special ed elementary school teacher, I can assure you that the amount of work you have these children doing is tantamount to abuse of the child labor laws and the bottom line is while I approve of designated childhood chores, if adults want to bring in children into the world, it is their responsibility to realize the increase in laundry, dishes, room cleaning, the household chores need to be devised between all people living in the home, parents are required to do the ironing, lawn mowing, and specific intrinsic chores that are deemed dangerous to children under certain ages by state (you mention none of this) and the bottom line is with the increase in school homework and your lists of chores, where on the Paget growth chart does manual labor fall into normal childhood growth? I can appreciate teaching responsibility to children as they grow, I also appreciate well mannered children, but what you profess as well developed childhood growth with appropriate responsibility needs to be reassessed with the demands on children outside the home beginning with school (pre-K, on), church (Wednesday night 6-8:15) after school (sports), etc. At what point do you feel a child has the time and the right to just be a child?

    1. I completely agree- we only do these chores in the summertime. During the school year, we stick to the simple ones like unloading the dishwasher as a family and then usually one other 5 minute chore a day. 🙂

  12. Well we have 2 girls 10 & 12 yr old girls. We needs age appropriate chores for them .They haven’t had any up till now. WE know that it’s our own fault. Also we are aware that it’s not going to be easy .I mean yes we try to get them to clean up after themselves and do the basics but not without a yelling and struggling match for way longer than I care to admit. And even then I break and just end up doing it that way I know it gets done and done right ! I’m a fanatic about cleanliness and keeping a clean house and organization .Clutter freaks me out .I can’t handle things left out randomly around the house. I need help with having them pitch in and start contributing towards the household chores. How do I change there routine now and incorporate the chores that I have been doing for them for yrs now ??

  13. I love the chores you have come up with. I will be using your list this summer! There are a couple of chores that are good for the 4 and up age that my children do. We will have them wipe down the doors and door handles in the house. There are always spots on them from their sticky/ dirty fingers. Also we have the kids put out food and water for our dog. Thank you again for the list. I am looking forward in getting your blog emails.

  14. I started the cotton ball jar with my kids last week! Amazing results all! They really want to go to reptile land and are working hard to make that happen! Great idea to work with all my kids age 2, 3, and 10! They all love it!!

    1. My 3 year old was really the only one that is difficult but he is doing great with this and love rewarding the others who always listen anyway!!