Parenting Matters: Expect something

polite, helpful and to be loving, you have some work to do.

Let’s just look at the help side today. Children begin by wanting to help you. They see you making dinner and they want to help. They see you working in the yard and they want to help. Even when you are folding the laundry, vacuuming or washing the car, they want to be doing the same thing.

These are golden opportunities to have them involved and to teach them the joy (yes, joy!) of work. Then there is the special time that goes on after doing a job is done when you all get to look at the results of the work you did together.

So let’s talk about some chores that little ones can do. You obviously have to adjust the chore and the expectation to the level of the child. But remember you need to expect some results.

When you child does one little thing to help you in the kitchen that probably doesn’t qualify as a chore. But when he does a task on a regular basis then it can be considered a chore he is doing.

Chores can begin at a fairly early age but they also need some follow-up. But let’s look first at what we might consider appropriate chores for different ages.

Ages 2 and 3

Help make his bed

Pick up some of his toys (May need your supervision)

Take dirty clothes to the wash area

Fill a pet's water and food bowls (May take supervision)

Put the napkins on the table for dinner

Ages 4 and 5

Get dressed with just a little help from you

Make his bed better than he did at 2 or 3

Bring his toys and clothes from the car into the house

Set the table with just a few reminders

Clear some of the table when dinner is over

Help you prepare something simple as part of the meal

Match socks in the laundry

Answer the phone with your assistance

Now be responsible for the dog or cat’s food and water bowl

Hang up towels in the bathroom

Ages 6 and 7

Make his bed every day

Brush his teeth

Comb his hair

Choose the day's outfit and get dressed

Write thank you notes with supervision

Vacuum, dust and clean his room

Help fold laundry

Put laundry in their drawers and closets

Put away dishes from the dishwasher

Help in the yard with weeding or raking Empty indoor trash cans


Remember to make a big deal about jobs well done. Tell other people how he is learning to help. Give him hugs for jobs well done. You are setting the stage for him to learn to be a good worker.

Especially let him know when he does parts of the job on his own.

Maybe he decides he will do things without being told or maybe he does a little extra. Certainly you want him to develop his initiative.

All of this is helping him be a part of a family. This is an important lesson everyone should learn and it is pretty much up to the parents to teach it. Once again, if you as his parent or grandparent or friend are being his teacher you are really an important teacher.

Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. Reach Martin at or at 681-2250.



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