Do your kids do chores around the house? Do you wish your kids did chores around the house? What about chores for 4 year olds?
While the topic of chores makes some parents uneasy, it shouldn’t! Your kids (even as young as two!) can totally do chores around the house. Surely, your preschool or elementary-aged kiddo helps clean up their classroom at school. So why can’t they do the same at home?
Why Kids Need Chores
Giving kids chores or tasks at home sets them up for growth and success both in and out of the home. Expectations set (early on) lay the foundation for success as they grow.
Around here, we believe in reasonable expectations for age-appropriate chores. Is your four-year-old going to have the same chores as your ten-year-old? No way! But are the chores a four-year-old does going to help them accomplish chores at ten? Absolutely.
You may wonder be reading and thinking, yeah that sounds good… But how? WHY?
Let’s talk about chores 4-year-olds can totally do, shall we?!
Benefits of Chores for 4’s
In a previous post about kids and chores, I argued that there are many (educational and functional) benefits for your child helping around the house.
This is especially true for 4 year olds. Developmentally, they’re becoming more independent, capable, and verbal. They understand delayed gratification (ex: let’s clean this room, THEN we can go to the park) and have the motor skills to help around the house in a ton of ways.
Chores for 4-year-olds are especially important because it will help them learn how to take care of a space — which is sure to come in handy when they’re in kindergarten in one short year.
Consistency & Routines
Adults make their expectations clear through consistency and creating routines.
Consistent effects of a behavior help children know what to expect. After the playroom gets messy, we have to clean it. If water gets spilled, we have to wipe it up. We have to sort socks when clothes come out of the dryer. When we do this consistently, every time, kids will know what’s coming.
Consistency helps kids know what’s coming, and it helps them feel safe.
This consistency at specific times of the day is a routine. Routines allow children to know what we expect of them.
Morning routines usually involve getting dressed, having breakfast, and brushing teeth. When you ask a 4-year-old to get dressed, they aren’t confused.
Using consistency and routines for implementing chores for 4 year olds is helpful in the same way.
Chores for 4 Year Olds
While every child is different, chores for a four-year-old can be reasonable, helpful, and beneficial in your home.
Sounds great, right? You might wonder which chores they can actually do. Below is a list of twelve age-appropriate chores for a four-year-old.
12 Chores for 4 Year Olds
Here are 12 tasks 4-year-olds can totally do:
- Dust low furniture and baseboards
- Dustbust crumbs
- Feed pets
- Water plants
- Pick out / set out clothing
- Help with laundry (separate, match socks, fold and put away clothes)
- Pick up toys (especially when they’re minimized)
- Set and clear some of the table (put out forks and napkins, put their dish in the dishwasher)
- Straighten up beds (you do the sheets, they put pillows or stuffed animals up)
- Clean their space in the car, help with washing
- Cooking and baking (washing fruit and vegetables, measuring, cutting with child-safe knives, mixing salad)
- Help put groceries away (pouring nuts in canisters, putting snacks in bins)
HOW do you know which chores are for 4s?
So we’ve covered the why and which ones, but what about how?
How do you know which chores to choose? There are a million lists and articles out there telling you which chores are good for a four-year-old to do – but not everyone’s home looks the same.
Preschool-aged children love feeling important and in charge — so let them be!
Responsibility at this age is going to be trial and error. Think of it from the Goldilocks lens: you want to make sure a task is not too difficult that they become frustrated, but not too easy that they don’t feel important!
Build on things you know they can already do. For example, you’ve always had them pick up their toys, but now ooo and ahh about them being able to put them away in the correctly labeled bins.
They’ve been able to pour a cup of water into the dog’s bowl, but now they can correctly measure out their food.
Give them a job with loose guidelines like, “Can you put these snacks away in the pantry?” and let them decide the rest.
Preschool-aged children learn by observing and practicing. They’ve finally reached the age to gain some independence. And while they often think they deserve more free rein than we feel comfortable giving them, don’t be afraid to let them do things — even without constant supervision.
They just might surprise you!
How to Maintain Reasonable Expectations
Yes, your two-year-old can do chores! The earlier you implement chores in your house, the less resistance you’ll receive later on. (Less, not none.)
While chores for a toddler may look different from the chores a four-year-old has, (or the chores an eight or ten-year-old has) you are setting a foundation, which creates expectations from the beginning.
Remember, not all children grow and mature at the same rate, but by starting young, you encourage confidence and independence.
Model What You Expect
Young children learn by modeling and repetition. Expect to model (by model, we mean SHOW exactly how and what you want them to do by doing it yourself first and talking your way through it) the chores you want your four-year-old to do a few times.
By modeling a task for your child, you’re creating the expectation. You are showing them exactly what you want them to do. It may seem overly simplified, but showing them how to do something by putting your hands on theirs and physically moving them can help!
It’s not wrong to set expectations, but remember, they need lots of guidance upfront.
Don’t Expect Perfect
It’s easy to focus on how we would do something as an adult. We have decades of experience doing simple tasks. Yes, even tasks like making a bed or setting a table. While it is important to set high expectations for our children, we have to set reasonable ones.
Don’t fix their work if they accomplished the task. And always remember to be gentle as you critique. Be patient, they are learning!
It’s important to make a big deal over children’s efforts.
Chores for 4 year olds may not seem complicated or very detailed, but they are the building blocks to things so much bigger – effort, habits, foundation. These are the things that will last them throughout their life, not how they make a bed.
Say something like, “You worked so hard on that!” or “Thank you, that was so helpful to me!” even if the work isn’t perfect.
Keep Safety in Mind
Remember to keep basic safety in mind when asking your 4 year old to help.
Avoid heat (irons, cooking), chemicals (pesticide, strong cleaners), sharp items (knives), and tasks that may be too heavy (mowing the lawn, vacuuming).
Asking them to do something where they may get seriously injured will have the opposite effect on building independence and confidence.
Chores for 4-Year-Olds (and Confidence, too!)
Your kiddo shouldn’t be the only one feeling confident about doing chores. Are you feeling more confident allowing your four-year-old some responsibility?
Do you think they can do it? They can!
Start slow. Start small. Celebrate the wins, and know you are gifting them confidence and all kinds of benefits for their entire life. The help around the house is just an extra gift for you – now and down the road!
Go with confidence, knowing that your four-year-old can totally help around the house with age-appropriate chores (and some guidance… okay, maybe a bit of guidance).
Do you already have chores for your four-year-old to do? Leave a comment below. I would love to hear what works for you and your home.