They’re still kids, and they’re still dependent on you, but they’re definitely old enough to start taking some responsibility and helping you out with small things around the house. If this is the first age when you’re introducing chores, how do you do it so as not to feel like a slave driver, and how do you know what’s appropriate for kids this age?
7-9 year old’s are able to do basic chores around the house. Not only should you be insisting on this to relieve your own household burden, but it teaches responsibility and independence and encourages them to take some pride in looking after themselves and their space.
Keen to get your kids involved in chores but unsure which chores are reasonable to expect them to do? Or quite how to get them started, dealing with the inevitable protests? We’re here to guide your chore-setting for kids aged seven to nine years old.
Appropriate Chores for 7 to 9 Year Old’s
Whether they’ve been doing chores for years, or you’re just introducing your kids to chores now, here are some ideas about what is reasonable to expect typical seven- to nine-year-old kids to be able to do in terms of pulling their weight around the house.
1. Cleaning their rooms
If this hasn’t been instilled yet, now is the time! There are multiple tasks that this can include, from putting toys, books, and crafts back into cupboards or onto shelves, and making sure that their rooms are generally tidy to making their beds. If you change the bed linen once every week or two, you can also encourage them to remove their sheets and linen every Friday and to re-make up their beds with fresh linen. Being responsible for keeping their own space tidy is important from a young age, developing the understanding that they live in the environment they create.
2. Self-care and a complete hygiene routine
Perhaps with the exception of girls with very long hair, who may still need some help washing and brushing their hair out, children this age should be able to bath or shower themselves, brush their own teeth, and hair and generally be responsible for their personal hygiene. Part of this routine should be hanging up their towels after use, putting away any bath toys, and making sure that the bathroom is not left with puddles of water everywhere.
3. Making snacks and small meals
This can be a huge help to you, allowing kids to help themselves to food and prepare snacks without needing to constantly be at their beck and call for such basic tasks that they’re capable of doing themselves. They are able to learn how to safely use a knife at this age and can also learn the safe use of a stovetop. Whether it is cutting up an apple, making a sandwich, cooking an egg, flipping pancakes, or making a piece of toast, kids this age are able to responsibly use kitchen items to prepare themselves snacks and basic meals to stave off hunger in between larger meals.
4. Pack their own school lunch the night before
This can go hand in hand with making snacks. Teaching them to prepare things the night before so as to avoid the morning rush or excuses of not having time to do it then is a good habit to get them into at this age and can then be applied to homework and all sorts of other tasks. It teaches good time management, planning, and forethought too. Having kids stay in the kitchen after dinner to make a sandwich or pack up some leftovers from dinner and pack it into their lunchbox with some fruit, a granola bar, some cheese, nuts, or other snacks is a good habit to form and an easy chore to relieve your morning time pressure.
5. Pick out school clothes
Just to reiterate the evening before planning routine, kids can pick out their own outfits for school the next day. Thinking about what they want to wear and taking it out of the cupboard to make their morning routine easier is an easy task for them to do as they develop their own sense of style and is one less thing that’ll be on your list.
6. Feed and walk pets
If you have animals in the house, kids are now old enough to take some responsibility for their maintenance, helping them to appreciate the work that goes into caring for animals and developing a sense of responsibility and ownership for them. Walking the pets, cleaning out littler boxes, feeding them, and giving them water are all tasks that kids can manage.
7. Clean the kitchen
Now they know how to cook basics and prepare snacks, they can also learn to clean up after themselves. You don’t want to come into a kitchen where toast has been made there are crumbs all over the counter and floor, and a plate and knife discarded on the countertop. Cleaning up after themselves involves wiping down the counter, putting away ingredients they may have used, loading dishes into the dishwasher or handwashing them, and sweeping the floor if they’ve made a mess. This will help to teach them responsibility and encourage working in a clean environment and leaving things the way that they found them.
8. Take out the trash
Kids are now old enough and should have the strength to knot a trash bag, pick it up and take it outside, to a garbage shoot, or into a bin on the street.
How much you involve them in the laundry is up to you, but especially as they head towards nine, they should be able to sort laundry and put the machine onto a cycle. They can take it out and hang it up or put it into the dryer and then put away their own laundry. You may need to help with detergent at first, depending on what kind you use, and with hanging up certain items, but kids should be able to do laundry at this age, but at least fold and put away their own clean laundry if you don’t yet trust them with the rest. Given how much laundry kids produce, having them help with a load or two a week can be a big burden off your shoulders!
Kids often have fun doing this, and one or two rooms are reasonable to ask them to do without tiring them out completely. Teaching them to go carefully around table legs, lift chairs up, or move them, and reach all the way under their bed to avoid dust bunnies is a good lesson in keeping their space clean. Usually very easy to operate, kids can learn to vacuum quickly and are big enough to handle the machine.
11. Water plants and gardens
Not just house plants, but outside plants if you have a garden can be taken care of by kids. Taking care of a space they enjoy playing in will help them to appreciate it more and the work that goes into maintaining a garden. They can help with watering, weeding, and planting new plants at this age, helping to teach the importance of caring for the environment. Raking leaves is another task kids can manage, or if you have a leaf blower, learning to work one of those.
12. Cleaning the bathroom
Wiping down the sink every few days, emptying the bathroom rubbish bin, wiping the mirror free of fingerprints or splotches of toothpaste, learning to use a toilet brush, and other such basic tasks can be expected from your seven- to nine-year-olds. They are able to mop as well if this is something you’d like to include in their chores.
13. Dry and put away dishes
Dishes that have been hand washed (another possible chore for kids in this age group if you operate in a dishwasher-free house) need to be dried with care and put away in their correct places. Kids should be able to show initiative either by handwashing themselves or, if an adult is handwashing, to take a cloth and start to dry and put away the clean dishes.
14. Clean out
Cleaning out a cupboard under a child’s bed or the garden shed is a task that kids this age can help with. Whether it’s sorting out a box of clothes or toys that they no longer use anymore or going through expiry dates on tins of food in your basement or pantry, kids are able to help you with organizational tasks that require some kind of simple way to distinguish between items.
15. Set and clear the table
Setting the table and clearing it after a meal is an easy task for kids this age to manage. Learning the correct setting, as well as being able to put out a jug of water, butter, salt and pepper, and other table items, is easy. Putting them away in their correct places afterward and then wiping down the table or shaking out the table cloth is very manageable and a simple way for kids to contribute to a meal.
This can include a variety of things and depends very much on what you have in your house. Whether it’s books by size, DVD by title, or the pantry by grocery type, getting your kids involved in small organizational tasks is good in helping them to create order and a sense of structure in their environments.
17. Be a gopher
This is a generic term for being a runner for you, fetching and carrying whatever you may need. Whether it be grocery shopping from the car or ingredients from the pantry while you’re cooking, kids can grab whatever you need and bring it to you, or vice versa. They’ll feel like they’re helping, they’ll be using up energy, and it’s a win-win.
18. Wrap gifts
This might be a daunting task to relinquish to your children, especially if you are a bit of a perfectionist and love a well-wrapped gift. Because at first, they will not be. This required some fine motor skills that might take a while to develop, but your kids will likely enjoy doing the wrapping and feeling like they’ve contributed to the gift. Especially around holidays when there might be many gifts, this is definitely some admin that the kids can get involved in.
19. Offering help
While not strictly a chore, getting your children into the habit of being perceptive of what people around them are doing and when they might need help, and then offering to help when they think it might be appreciated, is a great habit that will always serve them well in life. Creating an awareness of the need for help and a desire to offer help improves their situational awareness and helps to develop emotional intelligence too.
If you have school uniforms, shirts, or pants that are missing buttons, kids are very able to work a needle and thread and sew on their own buttons. It is usually clear where one has fallen off from, and teaching them to do small repairs such as this, which are commonly given kids’ play, helps them to help themselves so they can wear that favorite item as soon as possible once again.
How Do You Introduce Chores to Your Kids?
At some point, your kids need to learn that it’s not all about what they need at the moment they need it, but that to be part of life, you have to do the work of life. There needs to be an understanding that whatever they aren’t doing, someone else is doing for them. To be part of the whole, they need to do their part.
The earlier children learn this, the more intuitive they will become about offering help, the more responsibility they will feel for their actions, and the more they will learn about teamwork and contributing to something that is more than just about them. Chores are a great way to develop this learning right in your own house and actually take some of the load off you too.
Remember that there are some important golden rules when it comes to getting children to do chores.
- Children need to be clear on what you expect from them: Show your kids how to do a job well and have them work alongside you, watching you doing something a few times before giving it a go on their own. Be clear in showing them how you expect a task to be done. Also, be clear on when it needs to be done.
- Don’t expect them to do it well at first: It often takes a lot of repetition, correcting, and practice before a child does something well or perfects an activity. Don’t expect perfection from the beginning, and have patience while they learn something – knowing that it will pay off for you too helps as an incentive for you! It’s hard not to micromanage but go easy on them.
- Praise more than you correct: You’ll want to give a child ten times as much praise for what they’re doing as correcting them so that they don’t just feel like they’re doing something wrong all the time. You don’t want them to give up because they think they can’t do something. It’s easier to focus on how they can improve, but make a conscious effort to praise and encourage what they are doing correctly.
If you haven’t yet introduced chores to your children, now is the time to do it! Any later, and they may already be too independent or take too much for granted. How do you start, though? By sitting your kids down and explaining why and how they can help. What often helps to motivate kids is incentives, so adding some form of an incentive can be a great way to reward their hard work.
In terms of an allowance or money tied to chores as an incentive, most parenting experts agree that this shouldn’t be allowed. Children need to learn household tasks and responsibilities, and paying them for something they should do anyway is not what the focus is. Particularly, younger children may not be motivated by money, and tying chores to money might not have the desired effect.
An exception to this rule is teenagers or older children who have already learned responsibility, are pitching in more, and need a bit of motivation for doing extra chores on top of their usual tasks, then paying a small allowance is more acceptable.
Some ideas to incentivize children include:
- Reward with money (older kids)
- Reward with playtime, screen time, park time, or something else that they enjoy and that motivates them. It can be an activity, your attention, or anything else.
- Make a chores chart – you can write all the chores that need doing on a daily or a weekly basis and get kids to sign up for those they want to. Make a column saying when it needs to be done, and another for marking off when it has been done. There can be a points system for each chore done, and when a certain number of points have been collected, a small reward can be given. You could make it competitive between kids if you have more than one on a weekly or monthly basis.
- Allow them to pick dinner for a week
- Allow them to download a new app
- Reward them with a day out somewhere
- Allow them to have dessert
If you believe your children will respond to being incentivized with money and choose to do that, the critical question is how much to pay them. You don’t want them to not be motivated enough, but you also don’t want to be overpaying them. Learning to earn in small amounts and to save to buy something they want is an important life lesson that can start with this.
Paying an allowance for chores can be done in a number of ways. You can pay per chore, with different chores valued at different amounts, or all the same (e.g., a dollar a chore), with five or six chores being done each week. You could also pay a dollar per year of the child’s age, which is a fixed amount per week, or else a fixed amount for doing all the chores. This is totally personal, and what will work best for your ids and your budget is not a one-size-fits-all model.
How Do You Deal with Kids Protesting to Chores?
Oh, it can be tricky to get kids to actually do the chores. They’ll be tired or not have time or sleep in or something! But unless you’re firm about chores getting done when they need to to the standard they need to be done, kids are going to learn that they can get away with not doing them and that you will just pick up the slack.
Not to say that there aren’t legitimate excuses sometimes, or that you don’t want to help your kids when you can, but for them to learn proper time management and responsibility, they need to learn to do the things they’ve agreed to do, or are required to do to be part of the household.
While some kids have no problem jumping right in and doing their bit and even have fun doing certain chores, others will moan and groan as if you’ve asked something totally impossible and unreasonable of them. You haven’t! Remember that because it can be hard to, and you might start questioning whether it’s even worth it to argue with your eight-year-old rather than just doing something yourself.
But it is. Usually in the relatively short term, for your benefit, and in the long term, for their benefit. Be firm in what you want and when you want it. For example, “When the dog is fed, then you may have your dinner.” The child knows exactly what needs to be done and what the consequence of dragging out or delaying that chore is.
Be consistent in setting your expectations and in your praise. Make sure kids understand why they need to do something and by when it needs to be done. Be firm in your insistence it is done, not after dinner or after a movie, but beforehand. Kids will learn where your boundaries are and how flexible they are and push them to their limits. Give praise when the task has been done, and thank them, even if they did so begrudgingly.
Starting your kids early is one of the easiest ways to avoid protests, as they grow up with the expectation of having to pitch in. Kids are more capable than you think, and a child that knows how to play a computer game can certainly put a dishwasher or a load of washing in.
To help make doing chores more fun, there are a number of things you can do:
- Set a timer and make it a race or a competition to see who can finish first. There will need to be an element of quality control in here to ensure chores are being done to standard!
- Do something else at the same time – play music or a podcast while all doing chores.
- Use incentives – whether it is fake money you pay them at the end of the chore that will allow them to ‘buy’ something else from you or a fun chore chart, there are ways to motivate kids.
Children aged seven, eight, and nine years old are more than capable of pulling their weight around the house, and as they get older, they can build on their skillset of chores and what they are able to do. Being part of a household involves pitching in, and kids are often more willing than you might expect to be able to help out and feel part of something bigger.
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Money Saving Mom: 20 Chore Ideas For 7-Year-Olds
Your Modern Family: Free List – Age Appropriate Chores: Young Children through Teenagers
Chronicles of a Babywise Mom: A Complete List of Chores Your 7 Year Old Can Do