In Japan, elementary school students go to school to learn how to do chores as early as eight years old! In fact, that is Japanese students’ curricular in their early school years. The cleaning culture practiced at school in return breeds responsible citizens and an admirable country. Isn’t that impressive?

I think it could benefit all of us if we take Japanese cleaning culture as an example for our children!  

Teach your child house chores early

When it comes to house chores, parents must create the habit early and do not wait! It is believed that children can start learning house chores as early as the age of two! The reason is children learn faster in their development years. The longer you postpone, the harder it may be to change a child’s habit.

Importance of house chores to your child’s life

First of all, the purpose of teaching children house chores early is to develop early discipline. We know that children learn a habit faster when they are young. This is why exposing children to house chores at an early age is important. It helps build the right habits and discipline in children. As studies have been done, consistent or repeated action becomes permanent at one point in time. It becomes harder to change a wrong habit later in life!

Second, house chores teach children fundamental life skills. House chores such as cleaning and cooking are useful skills to be carried into adulthood.

Besides that, house chore is important to develop strong self-esteem in children! When a child is assigned to a house chore, it makes them feel trusted in their competency and ability to get things done. Completing a task in time and then being praised or thanked by parents boosts their self-confidence. Also, it builds a sense of responsibility to the people and environment around. This leads to the next point.

Other than that, children will be exposed to moral values. This is because doing house chores develop a sense of awareness, teamwork, cooperation, consideration, and understanding of everything around the child. Children will learn through house chores that the world does not revolve around them. For instance, helping out in the kitchen gives children awareness that dinner does not just magically appear on the table. In fact, there is a process, such as meal planning, preparation, cooking, and then cleaning up after eating!

Finally, parents want to encourage a cleanliness habit in children. A clean physical environment ultimately leads to a peaceful mental and emotional wellbeing for the child and the household. Contrastly, a clutter-filled environment leads to a poor lifestyle.

How to introduce house chores to my child?

First of all, start by showing your child step-by-step how to do a chore. While doing that, make sure to be clear on the instructions.

For example, saying “clean up your bedroom” is too vague.

Say this instead; “Pick up your clothes”, “Hang your towel”, “Make your bed”, or “Sweep the floor”.

Then, allow your child to repeat the chore with your presence. Finally, when your child has learned how to do the chore correctly, allow them to do it for themself at their own pace without your supervision. In the meantime, remember to be patient while they adopt the habit, and not be too critical with imperfections. In addition, say thank you and compliment your child every time after they have cooperated and completed a chore well.

Give sustainable rewards!

Associate feelings of fun and positivity in house chores! So, remember to not pressure, criticize or rush your child when they make a mistake. Another good tip to motivate your child with a reward is, let your child know that once they have completed a chore, they can play or do something they want.

Can I use money to motivate children to do house chores?

First of all, parents should not use the money to motivate young children. Mainly, young children may not understand the value or importance of money yet, to feel motivated enough to do chores. In addition, children should learn how to do chores as a responsibility rather than an obligation.  

Aren’t children supposed to study instead of worrying about house chores? 

Some parents may be skeptical about filling a child’s time doing house chores.  For instance, they may ask; shouldn’t my child be studying hard instead of spending time doing chores? Or perhaps, shouldn’t children be burdened with loads of house chores in their childhood? The answer to that is, children must study hard, but in addition to that, they must also develop life skills and morals that can help them be better adults. Children will grow up someday, and with greater life responsibility. Undoubtedly, house chores are essential skills needed to have a good quality of living.

The objective of cleaning is not just to clean, but to feel happiness living within that environment.

-Marie Kondo

So, what house chores can children do according to age?

Kindergarten, age 2-6

Kindergarten from the age of 2 – 6 years old is eager to help you out with whatever you are doing. This is because young children are in their developmental age, and they learn by following us, observing our actions! Even toddlers copy their caretaker’s speech and movements! When kindergartens want to learn, be patient and welcome them to participate! Don’t buff and neglect your child’s curiosity to do activities with you. Because their interest to copy whatever you are doing, is your advantage to teach them skills. By participating in the activities of daily life, children understand how things work. For example, dinner doesn’t start by sitting at the table. It starts by shopping for ingredients, planning, preparing, and cooking the meal. In addition, dinner also has an end; it ends by clearing the table, and cleaning the dishes afterward.

Primary school, age 7 – 12

As kids get a little older, they should start to develop discipline and commitment to their chores. These are the task that requires routine engagement, such as routinely cleaning pets and their litter, routinely taking the trash out, and helping out in the kitchen under supervision. A child will also learn that she is responsible for both the messes and disorganization that she makes as well as knowing that she has the power to have control over her environment by doing things when they need to be done.

Secondary school, age 13 – 17

By the time your children are in secondary school, they should do heavier-duty chores. These are tasks that require a certain level of organization and planning, or tasks that take a longer time to accomplish. For example, cleaning the bathroom requires your teen to plan and organize the cleaning processes. Namely, scrubbing the wall first, cleaning the sink next, then wiping the mirror, then cleaning the toilet, and finally scrubbing the floor. Another example of a heavier-duty chore is grocery shopping. Grocery shopping requires budgeting skills, planning a shopping list, prioritize items, knowing the shopping route (by the way, frozen items should be the last section to shop to prevent food spoilage), having the knowledge to pick the right vegetables, and then unpack the shopping afterward.

Here is a summary of age-appropriate chores for your child!

Preschool kidsPrimary school kidsSecondary school teens
House chore characteristics:
Daily mundane tasks, sorting things, putting things in place, unpacking, short-term tasks.
House chore characteristics:
Weekly tasks, tasks that require a routine, habit, discipline, medium-term tasks.
House chore characteristics:
Monthly, yearly, or situational tasks, heavier duty chores require some organization skills, planning, and takes a longer time to accomplish.
Put clothes in the laundry
Hang towel
Put toys away
Put kitchenware away
Organize and sort things
Unpack things
Feed pets
Water plants
Sweep and mop floor
Vacuum carpet
Help out in the kitchen
Take trash out
Cleaning table
Iron clothes
Take care and clean pets and litter
Do laundry
Clean bathroom, plumbing
Look after a younger sibling
Fix basic things (sink, light, door)
Wash car
Cook dishes
Buy grocery
Clean the fridge
Mow lawns
Paint walls

All in all, the best time to teach your child house chore is as young as possible! The discipline developed at an early age brings advantages not only to the child but to the household and community as well. So, which house chore do you think you will introduce to your child first?