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9 Chores for 10 to 12-Year-Olds

Girl dusting shelves at home.

No one enjoys doing chores.  As a kid, you probably didn’t like them either! They felt like a punishment almost, and you may or may not have been rewarded for doing them, but they are necessary and quite important for your child’s development.

For 10-12-year-old kids, they can do chores like cleaning their room, folding laundry, mowing the lawn, helping with meal preparation, sorting out recycling in the house, washing cars, and looking after the family pets, as well as taking out the garbage.

While there are many more chores that kids of this age can do, and we will look at all of those, later on, the question is should kids do chores and why? There are some excellent reasons your kids should do tasks- let’s examine those in some detail before getting into the actual duties they could do.

Why Should 10-12-Year Old Kids Should Do Chores

Little girl in the laundry room holding a laundry basket.

If the prospect of getting your kids to do chores seems daunting, there are some excellent reasons for you to allocate duties to kids this age and even younger.

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In an age where more and more kids are disconnecting from the world and becoming more addicted to digital technology and social media, being involved in the everyday operations of the house is a very positive way to have them contribute to the daily routine.

Many parents work a full day, and when they come home, they are faced with a sink full of dirty dishes, scattered laundry, and messy rooms. Having your 10-12-year-olds help out with some simple chores can take a load off tired shoulders and relieve the frustration of having to clean a dirty home alone.

Doing Chores Teaches Responsibility

While some people may think that the adults need to take care of the house, anyone raised in a household where they had chores to do understands now the lessons they learned and how it’s stood them in good stead when they were older.

Avoiding the ‘spoiled brat’ syndrome is one of the most significant benefits of having your kids do chores. Getting them to understand that they need to actively contribute to the running of the home by cleaning up after themselves, doing dishes, or helping with laundry are strong life skills that all kids should be equipped with.

When they eventually move out of home and have a place of their own, having the skills to maintain a clean and ordered home is essential as they have an idea of the daily activities that need to happen.

If you have ever been with or know someone that didn’t do chores or contributed to the daily household activities, they are often lazy and expect everything to be done for them, and this is not the way you should want your kids to be as grown-ups.

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It’s frustrating and unfair to have to be a maid, cook, and cleaner in a house where you work, so the choice is to start allocating smaller tasks or risk a total nervous breakdown.

Getting your 10-12-year old to understand that they have responsibilities that need to be completed daily can be an empowering experience (once they get over the initial resistance). Research proves that this experience provides them with necessary life skills.

Doing Chores Promotes Competence, Confidence, and Belonging

Father and son washing dishes in the kitchen.

Having your kids sweep floors, help with meals, fold laundry, clean rooms or help with the garden gives them a sense of competence – that ‘I can do this’ feeling is important to build self-confidence.

It also helps them feel capable and a contributor to the house’ team’, which adds a sense of value to their self-esteem. By pitching in and helping out with the house, you create a sense of ‘good citizenship’ on a smaller level, later translating into contributing citizens to society.

Having a sense of duty and responsibility as a 10-12-year-old encourages that sense of community and shared responsibility which is sadly lacking in many of today’s young people.

Kids who do chores are less likely to have that ”it’s someone else problem’ mentality. They understand that it’s everybody’s responsibility to pitch in and contribute to a house or community.

It also empowers them to contribute as they have the innate self-confidence to take on tasks knowing they can complete them correctly as required.

Doing Chores Teaches Accountability

If you have ever done coaching in any form, you will know that accountability plays a massive role in the success of the coaching. Simply telling people what to do or giving them tasks to complete without accountability is a recipe for failure.

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By holding your kids accountable for chores, you instill this sense of responsibility within them at a young age. Remember that accountability is an empowering activity if used correctly and can result in an increased level of willingness to participate.

Not only that, but accountability learned early instills skills that will serve them well in the work environment later on in life, and it increases the chances of the chore being done the first time correctly.

There is also a gained sense of accomplishment and self-pride that comes with completing assigned chores properly, and this is another powerful skill that will allow kids to develop self-confidence and gain an understanding of achievement and contribution.

Chores Give Kids Functionality Outside the House

Kids helping parents clear the dishes.

Functioning independently when outside the house is another crucial life skill that many kids don’t have. For example, when your kids visit a friend’s house, can they do things for themselves?

Like pouring juice without spilling or being able to help clear dishes from the table after a meal? Kids that aren’t empowered with the ability and independence to confidently do small things when out of the house will struggle later on when they move away.

A child who learned to contribute and has various skills will cope far better when they find themselves in a college dorm where they have to fare for themselves in terms of food, cleaning, and laundry.

Assigning Chores from an Early Age Encourages Participation

Regardless of the age, assigning chores to your kids encourages participation in household activities, and even the most minor tasks can have a very positive effect.

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Kids naturally want to be part of the family, and by using positive reinforcement and role modeling, your kids will emulate what they see you do and how they see you do it.

If you approach your chores with a positive attitude rather than a ‘do I have to do this’ type mindset, your kids will learn that these activities are not difficult and will approach them with a can-do attitude.

Chores for Kids – What the Research Says

Girl helping mother to clean the house.

Results from a well-known Harvard study conducted 75 years ago showed that kids that had been given chores to do fared far better in adult life than those that did not. Furthermore, an article posted in the Boston Globe in December of 2015 showed that “Chores were the best predictor of which kids were more likely to become happy, healthy, independent adults.”

There is more the allocation of chores to kids than simply having them help you around the house; there are some very tangible and proven long-term benefits.

Whether your kids are doing chores now or are going to start, you need to bear in mind in the future.

There is a fortune of research that all prove the benefits of giving your kids chores to do, but in the meantime, let’s take a look at the type of chores that are age-appropriate for kids aged 10-12 and ways to manage tasks peacefully and constructively.

Chores that 10-12-Year Olds Can Do Right Now

It’s always essential to assign age-appropriate chores from both a safety and a competency point of view. Setting a task that would be difficult for a ten-year-old to do successfully would result in a negative experience for that child as they would struggle to complete it.

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The goal is to provide tasks that can be completed correctly and build self-esteem and that sense of capability and participation.

Here is a list of tasks that kids aged 10-12 can do:

10-12- Year Olds Can Make their Lunch

Little girl chopping veggies in the kitchen.

Kids from the age of 8 can (with a bit of supervision) be shown how to make their lunch. This includes taking out and putting back all the ingredients and cleaning up after themselves.

While some of their culinary choices may be suspect, this activity encourages their sense of creativity and exploration of taste combinations – just be prepared for some odd ones now and again.

This task takes some time off your schedule, and you can even have them make lunch for the siblings. This is also a task that can be shared and rotated amongst children in the home so that every child gets a chance.

10-12-Year Old Kids Can Do Their Laundry

Girl doing her laundry.

By this age, most kids have already learned to sort their laundry and even pack it away correctly after it’s been ironed. They can now start to wash, sort, and fold their clothes as well as pack them away.

Doing laundry at this age will be an invaluable life skill for both boys and girls and gives them a sense of self-responsibility when it comes to knowing what clothes they have and where they are.

If you have ever had to deal with kids not finding clothes because they weren’t packed away in the right place or dumped in the laundry basket because they were too lazy to lack them away, you’ll know the frustration that accompanies that.

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Encouraging responsibility for managing and looking after their clothing can save everyone involved a lot of stress.

10-12-Year Olds Can Take Out the Garbage

Another necessary activity in any household is garbage sorting and removal. While many people want to be more environmentally friendly and sort out the plastics, glass, and tins in the garbage, they often don’t have the time to do it.

This chore not only gets the task done but also creates a more significant and continuing awareness about the necessity to separate materials in the garbage to allow for easier recycling.

As the world becomes more attuned to the fact that recycling materials are necessary, allocating this chore to your child gives them that knowledge and ability to understand which materials go where and why.

Having glass, plastic, and tin recycling bins in your home can now become a reality when the kids know they need to place each material in its separate collection bins.

This activity promotes a sense of contributing to the greater good and helping the planet and gives your kids that sense of accomplishment to a more significant cause.

10-12-Year Olds Can Mow the Lawn

Little boy operating the lawnmower in the garden.

It may be time to hand over the lawnmower and allow your kids to mow the lawn and work in the garden. Most 11 and 12-year-olds can safely operate a lawnmower once you have shown them how to do it.

Even advanced 10-year olds can do this with some supervision and a few tips to make sure they can do it safely, but even so, don’t leave them entirely alone and be available to assist if needed.

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Make sure that they are physically capable of using the lawnmower. While it may seem better suited to boys, there is no reason that your 11 or 12-year old daughter cannot do this as well.

Also, show them the basics, like picking up rocks and stones or poop before mowing and dressing them in suitable clothing, so it becomes almost like an occasion to get dressed for.

Make sure your lawn isn’t too tall as this may pose a challenge to get the mower through thick grass, and always teach them to respect garden tools and machinery.

10-12-Year Olds Can Do Dishes

Boy with red gloves washing dishes in the kitchen.

When your kids get to this age, they can take this task off your hands. It’s simple to do and requires a little essential guidance and supervision to start with, and then they can do it alone.

You could combine this with clearing the table and alternate, so each child gets a chance to do both on different nights of the week.

You can also introduce the ‘one-wash-one-dry-and-pack’ routine so that that the task is balanced effort-wise. If your house has a dishwasher, they can be shown how to pack it and get it going, as this is also not a complex chore.

Assigning this task to your kids can give you some well-deserved post-meal downtime.

10-12-Year Olds Can Make Some Basic Meals

Kids making healthy burgers.

While you may not get gourmet meals, kids of this age can undoubtedly make simple meals like hot dogs, burgers, mac n’ cheese, and other easy eats. This is another opportunity to give you a night off from cooking.

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Not only can they make the meal, but they can also clean up afterward and finish off by washing dishes and utensils used in the process. This is another set of necessary life skills that will be of great value as they get older as it removes the dependence on the parents for food.

For example, let’s say that both parents have to work late and won’t be home at the expected time to make dinner for the family. The kids can then be advised and allowed to make a simple meal to eat in the meantime, and the parents have some food when they get home.

Aligned to this, kids can also set the table and take dishes off the table at the end of the meal.

10-12-Year Olds Can Clean Bathrooms And Toilets

Girl cleaning the bathroom mirror.

After being shown how to do this properly, most kids would clean toilets and bathrooms in the house. While some people would advocate having boys clean the toilet as they often tend to ‘miss’ and ‘mess’ on the toilet seat and floor.

Again, this is a necessary ability for kids to learn from a young age as when they are older; they will be able to keep their bathrooms clean, which is essential for personal hygiene.

10-12-Year Old Kids Can Make their Beds

This is another chore, and cleaning their rooms is essential as it teaches responsibility for their bedroom environment.

Making their bed in the morning before coming downstairs makes an immediate difference in the cleanliness of the room and is a good, positive habit to get into. Many self-development coaches and programs advocate making one’s bed yourself as part of a positive process of self-development.

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10-12-Year Olds Can Do Household Chores

Girl cleaning the house with the use of vacuum.

Some other chores that this age group of kids can do are vacuuming carpets and cleaning floors, as this is another activity that takes time off your hands and empowers kids with the ability to contribute.

When they walk through the house and know they have done a good job and see the results of their work, that instills a sense of accomplishment and pride in achievement.

Kids of this age can also assist with carrying in and packing away groceries and organizing pantry items.

Assigning Chores and Tools to Help

Daughter helping mom clean the house.

Now that we have looked at the list of chores your 10-12-year olds can do, let’s look at ways to assign those chores and address the question of reward or allowance paid for doing chores.

While many parents may adopt an authoritarian stance and simple issues and allocate chores, this may not be the most productive and positive method.

Remember, you don’t want to have chores as another headache that constantly needs to be micro-managed and becomes a conflict source. You want to have an atmosphere of understanding and fairness, so your kids WANT to do their chores and not feel like they are being FORCED.

Ways to Involve Your Kids in the Chores Discussion

Before you drop the chores bomb on your kids, make a list of the chores YOU need to do in the house and decide which child is better suited to do each one. If your 12-year old daughter is physically weak, then mowing the lawn probably wouldn’t be a good assignment.

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You can hold a family meeting and get input from everyone, and you can explain why you need the help in the house and then explain why you think the chores needed can be assigned to that specific child.

Involving your kids in this process promotes that sense of inclusion and not the dictatorial stance that many parents look to use as the kids then understand what’s required and why rather than feeling that it’s a punishment of sorts.

Approaching the chore task this way would mostly eliminate the resistance to doing it and result in more willing participation and having them done correctly. There is no point in allocating chores if you are only going to end up redoing them.

Creating chore charts or similar task lists that can be managed and checked off as each task is done would be a productive way of visually tracking progress and completion.

The Big Question on Chores – Part of Allowance or Not

Mom advising son with his allowance.

One of the most significant discussions around chores is whether or not kids should be paid an allowance or part of it or not.

One of those factors is that parents may feel resentful when they are asked for money by their kids that don’t contribute to the household in any way. Why should kids be given money and not do anything to earn or deserve it?

This line of argument aligns with the work ethic of later life in that there needs to be a deliverable to receive remuneration.

Paying an Allowance for Chores Done Can Work

This method acts as an incentive for a job correctly done, and when kids are looking to get themselves toys, shoes, games, airtime, or data, this may be a win-win scenario for both parents and kids.

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However, if you are going to go this route, then makes sure that the rules and amounts are set so that there are no disputes later on about who owes what and how much. Also, the money is contingent on the task being completed to an agreed standard.

There must be an understanding that the monetary reward will be paid only once the task is done correctly, and no half-jobs would be acceptable. Taking this route instills a sense that the chore must be done well for reward and cultivate a good work ethic.

Provided the rules, conditions, remuneration amounts, and expected results are clearly defined and agreed on, this can be a productive way of linking chores and allowance pay.

Another aspect to potentially allow for earning of privileges in exchange for chores done. While this is not direct remuneration in the form of an allowance, it does promote the sense of contribution for reward.

Completion of chores may allow more screen time or having friends over or other non-financial-based benefits.

Separating Chores and Allowance Money

Kids happily receiving allowance from their mom.

There is an equally good argument for keeping these two separate. Many parents feel that contributing to the household because they contribute to the mess and need to participate in the day-to-day running should be done without reward.

Suppose everyone in the family contributes to the everyday running of the home. In that case, this shows that effort is needed to maintain all the elements required to keep a home running, from dishes, meals, and cleaning to laundry and garbage duties.

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There are a wide variety of chores that 10-12-year olds can do to become contributing members of the family and gain a sense of participation and value within the family unit.

By allocating chores to your 10-12-year old kids, you instill a sense of responsibility and confidence that will serve them very well as they grow to adulthood to become independent and capable members of society.

References: Household Chores for Adolescents

The Center for Parenting Education: RESPONSIBILITY AND CHORES

Verywell Family: The Importance of Chores for Kids

Harvard Dataverse: Grant Study of Adult Development, 1938-2000

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