Chores for 5-year-olds:
Chores are such an important part of childhood. They teach responsibility and how to contribute to society and a family. If you haven’t started doing chores with your little ones yet, don’t worry! Now is always the best time to start! Here is a list of 28 age-appropriate chores for 5-year-olds based on professional suggestions as well as my own experience with 5-year-olds. For more details makes sure you scroll down and read how and when we implement the chores as well as how my kids handle them.
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Why it’s important for 5-year-olds to do chores:
Studies show that children with no chores contribute to a lack of responsibility, increased tension in parental relationships, and emotional stress. In a study done in 2011 called Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, they determined that children lacking in chores at home showed lower math scores, lower self-competence, and lower self-efficiency.
Benefits of 5-year-olds doing chores:
Research also shows that children that have chores are positively developmentally impacted. Children of all ages with chores as a natural part of their life learn to contribute to the family in healthy ways. Benefits of having a healthy chore boundary include:
- Higher academic skills
- Higher self esteem
- Life skills
- Work ethic
- Better mental health
- Contented mindsets
- Decrease of addictive behavior (drugs, alcohol, smoking, etc.)
- Healthier family dynamics
How to implement doing chores with a healthy mindset:
This is so important. Find chores around your house that are appropriate for YOUR 5-year-old to do. Every 5 year old is different and in different developmental phases. I have one 5 year old that can make oatmeal and I have one that isn’t quite there and would spill the bowl. That’s ok!
Teach them to do it correctly:
Children are learning and don’t have the skills that you have. Teach your child how to correctly do the chore every time so that when they are an adult they are efficient in their task. Remember, it may not be done “right” this time, but as they grow they will know how to do it right and their skills will match their knowledge!
Level your expectations:
Too high of expectation: It won’t be done perfectly. At the end of the day, doing chores for a 5-year-old is not about what is accomplished but about the heart. Were they earnest in helping and did the best that they could? That is perfect and exactly where they should be!
Too low of expectations: Your child is much more capable than you might think. Keeping your child from doing chores for efficiencies sake or to not have the fight is not a good reason to not assign chores. This can have lasting emotional and physical implications.
Assign small tasks:
Assign tasks that are achievable. It can be super discouraging to be assigned a large task that isn’t developmentally possible for them to get done. The flip side is, don’t underestimate what they can actually do. My 6-year-old that can’t do oatmeal quite yet, is a master at sweeping! My other 6-year-old that makes oatmeal well, hasn’t gotten the hang of sweeping yet. Both are exactly where they should be.
Doing this with your kids is super important. It instills trust and camaraderie in your kids knowing mom is doing the work right beside them. We often do a 10 minute tidy-up at the end of the day. This usually means I assign all of us a room (including me) and we spend 10 minutes tidying up together.
Kids can become overwhelmed just like adults can. They also just forget sometimes. My kids know that I expect them to do their chores every day without asking, but I also step in and do a chore for them to demonstrate love and serve them every so often. I know how thankful I feel when I walk out and one of my daughters is tidying up a mess that she’s not responsible for. I want my kids to have the heart to serve and to feel loved too; that starts with me stepping in for them too. I always tell them, “it’s what family does!”
Obedience is important:
Doing something immediately when asked is a hard one but super important. I expect immediate obedience from my kids (we’re still working on it) for a few reasons.
- I believe obedience to God is important and I want to instill that heart in my children (Ephesians 6:1)
- If there is a dangerous situation I need instant obedience NOT questions or complaints. (example: A child runs into the street and there are oncoming cars. When you call their name it should be an immediate response not questions as to why.)
I use the chant “all the way, right away, and with a cheerful heart!” to remind and define obedience for my children.
Reasons why your 5 year old won’t do chores:
Remember, from a child’s point of view these chores can be more difficult than we anticipate. Here are a few reasons these chores can be overwhelming. If you need extra ideas, Child Mind Institute has a great article on giving instructions!
Unfocused (no eye contact)
Make sure you have eye contact with your child. You need to be sure that they are focusing on what you are saying. I often say, “eyes on mommy” and get down on their level. Once I have given instructions I ask them to repeat it back to me: “What did mama say? Put your shoes away? Great job!” Then I send them off to do it.
Too many instructions
When giving instructions you must give direct and clear commands. Try to avoid giving a sequence of instructions. This can easily set a child up for failure. For example: “Clean up your room then wash your hands and go to the kitchen for dinner.” This sequence is too long. Start with, “clean up your room.” When they are finished, instruct them to wash their hands.
Instruct kindly, don’t ask:
This might be a silly one but I am a firm believer in following through with your word. When I ask my child, “can you please put away the shoes?” I am giving them permission to decide if they can or not. If they say, “no.” It’s kind of on me. Instead, I rephrase my question so that my child can’t insert their opinion during inappropriate times. “Hey! Please put your shoes away. Thanks!”
Is their bedroom overwhelmed with toys? If you have instructed your child to straighten up their room and they never seem to be able to get it done it could be the amount of stuff in their room is overwhelming.
As an adult, if I come upon a mess where there are things on every surface I easily become overwhelmed. Having to think about cleaning that every day can be a daunting task. Consider whether or not you have a good system in place to store toys and whether or not you have too much stuff in your home. This is also a huge contributor to mental health.
If you need some extra ideas check out how we organize everything easily!
Age isn’t everything:
Remember, every child is different and develops differently. If you have given a child a chore and they just never seem to accomplish it, maybe it’s time to assign something more attainable.
My 5-year-old fights doing chores:
Be consistent! Chore conflicts can be super difficult. I’ve been there and I’m still there! But mama, it is SO worth it. Having children that understand what responsibility is and contribute to family life as a teenager is super important. And they learn those behaviors as a 5-year-old. I want a relationship with my teenage children that offers mutual respect, love, and a sense of responsibility. If I’m sick for a few days I want them to step in and feed the dog, if they are overwhelmed with school I want to love on them by stepping in and washing their dishes that night. It’s the family I work towards having by having the chores fight anytime it comes up. It is SO worth it.
And even at 6-years-old, I’m starting to see it pay off. There are days I am super busy and I turn around to find that my 6-year-olds have straightened the whole house to the best of their abilities. How sweet is that!
How our family handles chores:
Every day my kids are expected to straighten their room, brush their teeth, get dressed, take their laundry to the laundry room, and do a handful of other small things. We don’t label these as “chores” in our house. It’s just personal things they need to take care of every day. We also don’t have assigned chores on assigned days right now. That will change as they get older. For now, when something needs to be done I ask them to do it. I have one child that enjoys unloading the dishwasher and getting the mail and I have another that volunteers to sweep and faithfully feeds the dog.
If you are someone that needs a nudge of organization and structure these chore charts are great! I have used a few in the past and these by far have been my favorite. They are easy to use, versatile, and durable. I will probably use them or a version of them as my children become more self-sufficient.
28 Age-appropriate chores for 5-year-olds
- Unload silverware
- Unload dishwasher
- Set the table
- Clear away dishes
- Dry dishes
- Make simple foods like sandwiches or toast (this is a messy one but they learn!)
- Clean up spills
- Sweep or Swiffer
- Put trash bags in the trash can
- Gather dinner ingredients
- Stir items cooking on stove such as eggs
- Assist in meal prep(crack eggs, snap green beans, wash fruit, etc.)
- Help carry in groceries
- Sort clean clothes
- Hang up clean clothes (my girls hang their own dresses and jackets as well as put away their own socks and undies)
- Hang jackets on hooks and line up boots
- Pick out outfits and get dressed
- Gather laundry from bedrooms
- Fold rags and towels
- Start the washer (my daughters love to start the washer after I’ve loaded it up!)
- Make bed
- Feed pets
- Pick up toys
- Run to get items (a diaper, a brush, etc.)
- Wash windows or mirrors
- Wipe down baseboards or walls
- Water plants
How to Make Chores For 5 Year Olds Fun
This list of ideas is all things we have done. These can really make tidying up and doing chores fun and silly. My kids love blasting music through the house as we clean.
- Play music
- Make chore time a game
- Race the clock
- Act like a character
- Get active (do it with them)
As you implement these important life skills into your daily routine remember mama, it’s worth it! Every frustrating moment is worth the self-disciplined and functioning children that are born from it.
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