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Home Responsibilities By Age

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Home Responsibilities Based on Age of Child

To all the parents of Balaclava school – thanks again for having me in to speak at your school.   I mentioned to a few parents that I had a list of age appropriate jobs and responsibilities that children can do to contribute to the functioning of the family.

Why do I keep harping on giving children jobs?  Because beleive it or not, children need to feel USEFUL.  In fact, all people have to feel as though they are being helpful and making a contribution.  When a person participates and does a job or gives of their time and talents it creates a sense of affiliation and belonging that is the sticky glue that pulls a group together.  Since the urbanization of society, children have been asked to do less and less for the family.  No more collecting the eggs or milking the cows.  Today’s children are often nothing more than inert tumors on the family!  They only experience take take take with out any of the lovely benefits that come from GIVING back in.   Children who have responsibilities to the family develop a sense of their importance, belonging and their self -esteem grows as their competencies grow.  So check it out.  How are your kids doing?

Here is the check list thanks to Marion Balla of the Adlerian Counselling Centre in Ottawa Canada.


  • Pick up unused toys and put in the proper place.
  • Put books and magazines in a rack.
  • Sweep the floor.
  • Place napkins, plates and silverware on the table. The silver is on but not correctly at first.
  • Clean up what they drop after eating.
  • Given a choice of two foods for breakfast. Learning to make simple decisions.
  • Toilet training.
  • Simple hygiene -brush teeth, wash and dry hands and brush hair.
  • Undress self – dresses with some help.
  • Wipes up own accidents.
  • Carrying boxed or canned goods from the grocery sacks to the proper shelf. Putting some things away on a lower shelf.
  • Clears own place at the table. Puts the dishes on the counter after cleaning the leftovers off the plate.


  • Setting the table.
  • Put the groceries away.
  • Help with grocery shopping and compile a grocery list.
  • Follow a schedule for feeding pets.
  • Help do yard and garden work.
  • Help make the beds and vacuum.
  • Help do the dishes or fill the dishwasher.
  • Spreading butter on sandwiches.
  • Preparing cold cereal.
  • Help parent prepare plates of food for the family dinner.
  • Make a simple dessert (add topping to cupcakes, jello, pour the toppings on ice cream)
  • Hold the hand mixer to whip potatoes or mix up a cake.
  • Share toys with friends (practice courtesy).
  • Getting the mail.
  • Tell parent his/her whereabouts before going out to play.
  • Should be able to play without constant adult supervision and attention.
  • Hanging socks, handkerchiefs and washclothes on a lower line.
  • Bringing the milk from the fridge.
  • Sharpen pencils.


  • Help with the meal planning and grocery shopping.
  • Making own sandwich or simple breakfast. Then cleaning up.
  • Pouring own drink.
  • Preparing the dinner table.
  • Tearing up lettuce for the salad.
  • Putting in certain ingredients to a recipe.
  • Making bed and cleaning room.
  • Dressing on own and choosing outfit for the day.
  • Scrubbing the sink, toilet and bathtub.
  • Cleaning mirrors and windows.
  • Separate clothing for washing. Putting white clothes in one separate pile and colored in another.
  • Fold clean clothes and put them away.
  • Answer the telephone and dial the phone for use.
  • Yard work.
  • Paying for small purchases.
  • Taking out the garbage
  • Feeding his/her pets and cleaning their living area.


  • Oil and care for bike and lock it when unused.
  • Take phone messages and write it down.
  • Run errands for parents.
  • Water the lawn.
  • Proper care for bike and other outside toy or equipment.
  • Wash dog or cat.
  • Train pets.
  • Carry in the grocery sacks.
  • Get self up in the morning with an alarm clock. Do preparations for bedtime on his/her own and then involve parent.
  • Learning to be polite, courteous and to share: respect others.
  • Responsibilities like carrying own lunch money and notes back to school.
  • Leave the bathroom in order: hang up clean towels.


  • Fold napkins properly and set silverware properly.
  • Mop the floor.
  • Help rearrange furniture. Help plan the layout.
  • Run own bath water.
  • Help others with their work when asked.
  • Straighten own closet and drawers.
  • Shop for and select own clothing and shoes with parents.
  • Fold blankets.
  • Sew buttons.
  • Sew rips in seams.
  • Clean up animal “messes” in the yard and house.
  • Begin to read recipes and cook for the family.
  • Baby sit for short periods of time with adults present.
  • Get items ready for a barbeque (charcoal, hamburgers).
  • Painting fence or shelves.
  • Help write simple letters.
  • Help with defrosting and cleaning of the refrigerator.


  • Change sheets on the bed and put dirty sheets in the hamper .
  • Operating the washer and/or dryer.
  • Measure detergent and bleach.
  • Buying groceries using a list and comparative shopping.
  • Crossing streets unassisted.
  • Keeping own appointments (dentist, school, etc. and making them within bike distance).
  • Preparing family meal.
  • Pouring and making tea, coffee and kool-aid.
  • Planning own birthday or other parties.
  • Doing neighbourhood chores.
  • Do chores without a reminder.
  • Learning to use allowance wisely.


  • Earn own money (baby-sit) as helper to adult.
  • Able to take the city bus.
  • Proper conduct when staying overnight with a friend.
  • Packing own suitcase.
  • Responsible for personal hobby.
  • Able to handle self properly when in public places alone or with peers (movies).
  • Responsible for a paper route.
  • Borrow and return books to library.

About Alyson

Alyson has been blogging parenting advice for over 15 years. She has been a panelist at BlogWest, Blissdom, #140NYC and more. Her content appears on sites across Canada and the US, but you can read all her own blog posts right here.

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29 Responses to “Home Responsibilities By Age”

  1. Maya

    What 10 year old can prepare a family meal?? In this society who would allow them to ride a city bus??

    • itjgray

      I used to get the bus to and from school ( about 1 hour ) aged 11 back in the 90s. It was normal. Once kids go to secondary school, they should be able to travel there on their own.

    • Lisa

      Both of my 10 year colds can prepare a meal, one of them better than my husband. You would be surprised what they can do.

    • Dj smith

      Me I’m 11 and I started at 7 I also clean like the whole house, cook dinner and lunch, stay home alone, and I go places with my friends a lot.

  2. Dick

    How are kids suppose to know how to do this if they can’t even reach to sit on a chair

    • jana momen

      but may be you child is still small or the chair is too high.
      how old is he

    • Christopher Ayo

      Depend with the age of your child, for many manage to do and with happiness

  3. Lutfiyya Timol

    At what age should child be able to bath themselves?

  4. Handing Over Responsibility - The Lived Life

    […] I flipped through my take-home materials from a parenting conference I attended last April and came across a list of responsibilities by age. […]

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    […] found a list of suggested responsibilities by age and started with teaching him to clear his plates after […]

  6. Cher & Rob

    Do you have a list for teens? We are well behind on the kid lists… and wondering where to start.

    • alyson

      Great question – I don’t – but your note inspires me to compile one!

      • Bonnie

        Yes, I to am behind and as a single mother would love to know what chores my 14 and almost 16-year old kids should be helping out with.

  7. olpampam

    Nice to have a guide. I’ve always been diligent about having my children be a functioning part of our family. I think that if you’ve been having your children help out and be responsible for themselves to their abilities all along, then they should be able to do most of these things.

    Remember that every child is different and might not be able to do all of these things, but it’s a great list for setting goals as to what your children can accomplish.

  8. Ms.R

    How to get a spoiled (with reason, none the less wrong i see after the fact, club foot, gerd and weak tooth enamel as infant and toddler. Almost 6 father dies, 6 months later sexual abuse at a private christain school ( trauma counseling of course was implented!) Now at almost 9 I have a child who won’t keep clothes, toys excetra picked up! Due to financial strain of fathers death we live with my parents. I need some advice, seems nothing works. Very frusturating and creating a stressful envioronment for all of us. We can’t seem to get this house organized to be a home and its going on 3 years!

    • alyson

      First off, let me say – I am sorry to hear about your difficulties. Its great you are reaching out for support. There is not much I can do in the small comment box of my site – but I would recommend you take an on-line parenting class that would give you great tips, ideas, and a community of parents on-line to help you implement changes slowly over time. Check out the work of my colleague Dr Jane Nelson of Positive Parenting.

  9. Ms.R

    Sorry my main question is how to get her to cooperate and do? Thanks

  10. Jennifer

    Do u think that at 11 years old that they should be responsible for taking the medicine

    • alyson

      If the medicine was for symptom relief, like a headache or rash, then yes. If it was necessary medicine for say seizures or insulin for diabetes, I would give the child as much freedom to take the medication independently, until the situation become a medical issue. An 11 year old can be competent enough to be responsible if they are taught and given skills to exercise this – but many “responsible parents” don’t have faith and hence the child never gets appropriate chances to learn to the skills of independence and competency required.

  11. Karen

    My boyfriend refuses to have his daughter age 10, do anything around the house or for herself. Makes messes doesn’t have to pick up, I do laundry she doesn’t have to even put them away after I’ve washed dried and folded them. I ask her to empty dishwasher he tells her she doesn’t have to. Says he didn’t have a child to make it a slave and that she’s not going anywhere near the oven to help cook etc…. I’m dumbfounded by this!? Sweeping, mopping, making her bed, putting clothes in laundry hamper… NOPE. She just leaves them wherever and is not ever asked or expected to pick them up. She is 10!

    • Alyson Schafer

      Maybe sharing some of this content will give him a new perspective! I am sure you are frustrated.

      • Karen

        Well I don’t feel he would be open to this content from the website I found it on. Do you have any recommendations for direct sites that I could go to with factual information studied and proven by doctors, psychologists, etc.?

  12. RG

    How do you motivate an 11 year old and 13 year old daughter to do ANYTHING related to cleaning up around the house? They’re all about helping make dinner, etc..(making the mess) but then its “you guys need to get your homework done..showers…bedtime”…..things get left around the house and not picked up..eventually they get disciplined..things turn around for a day or two…then we are right where we started again. “Leading by example” isnt even in their vocabulary (they’ll sit and watch YOU work all day and not get it) ….

    • Alyson Schafer

      Hey RG,
      We would love it if kids just did what they are supposed to, but alas, they don’t. We have to create discipline techniques to teach them, or solve the problem of why these things are not happening with them. Kids get something like 200 compliance requests a day!!! They get tired of following our marching orders. So, instead try applying a consequence or ask them for a better idea of how things should go. If they make a mess they should clean up after themselves. You can enforce this by applying the consequence that you follow the house schedule and clean preceeds computer time or tuck ins or what ever happens next. You can’t make them take ownership for their bedtime, but you can disclose that you are only willing to do tuck ins to people who are cleaned showered and brushed and in their rooms ready for stories by 8pm. If they aren’t ready, no stories….

  13. Jai mcdonald

    I would like to know the younger ones have so many responsibilities but when it comes up to the older children you dont really explain what their duties are at home like you have the rest .. if i went off this my younger kids would be slaves my older kids would feel like kings.

  14. amy

    my kid is 6years and can make me an omelette while being supervised, he even asks if I need something from the fridge. he can serve his own food if reachable and make his bed, takes his bath sometimes and doesn’t even let me do it sometimes. but how do I make him stop pissing on the bed in his sleep?

    • Alyson Schafer

      He seems very capable! I am not sure if he has ever been dry at night. Many kids don’t develop a critical hormone that slows urine production at night. Its genetic. Where you older when you were dry at night? Doctors don’t really see it as an issue until age 7. Patience at this point.


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