Parenting expert says kids can start doing chores at age 2: 'It's almost never too young'

Chores are a great way to teach kids about teamwork, responsibility and independence, which is why it’s almost never too young to start, according to parenting expert Julia Dennison, the executive editor of Parents.com.

“Chores are tremendously important for kids,” Dennison tells Yahoo Life. “It’s really important to start kids from a younger age just because you want to make it part of the routine and the norm in your family.”

Parents can start asking kids to do chores as young as age 2, Dennison says. While chores will be minimal at such a young age — it will mostly be picking up toys and putting them away — it’s important to get them started as soon as they can understand language and commands. 

“Teaching kids from a young age the concept of what it means to be a family and helping each other out is a really important life skill and something that you don't want to wait for,” Dennison explains.

As children get older, they can take on more responsibility. From sorting silverware to putting laundry away, kids can help out with whatever needs to get done. “Most of what you're doing in terms of chores around the house, as long as it's not like dangerous chemicals or a super sharp knife, you probably get your kids involved with,” Dennison shares.

It also helps to think about kids’ skills, interests and abilities. If, for example, your child is forgetful, maybe feeding the dog or cat isn’t the best chore for them. “Kids really do differ from kid to kid,” Dennison says. “It's really important to cater to that when you're thinking about what chores you’re giving your kids.”

Another tip is to give children their own responsibilities around the house. “Make one kid always in charge of taking out the trash, always in charge of sorting and recycling, so they can really take ownership of that one responsibility and then do it really well,” Dennison explains.

Dennison also believes it’s important for parents to try and make chores rewarding. “Never punish your children by giving them chores,” she says. “We work in a world where we get rewarded by things … so if you wanted to give your kid an allowance for doing chores, there's nothing wrong with that.”

Because chores help build independence and responsibility, they also give kids a sense of self-concept and self-esteem. “You have to remember that children spend their whole lives being told what to do,” Dennison says. “They don’t have a lot of opportunity for showing their own independence and their own responsibilities in the world. And so giving them chores is a really nice way to say to them, ‘Hey, show me what you can do.’”

For more tips about finding the right chores for your kids, visit Parents.com.

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