Keeping the house clean should be a family affair; everyone should be pitching in somehow no matter their age! Kids are certainly able to start household chores at an early age, based on their skills and abilities. Therefore, by the time your child is a preschooler, simple chores for 4 year olds can be a huge help to you around the house.
Preschoolers are certainly pros at making messes. However, if you take the time to teach them the habit of cleanliness, they will be great at cleaning those messes up as well.
You may be thinking, ‘there’s no way my 4 year old can have chores. All they know how to do is make a mess.’ The reality is, you’re right, IF you have not taught these chores and skills to your preschooler before, they cannot be expected to work independently.
However, once they understand the tasks set for them, and learn how to do it correctly, you can expect your 4 year old to start truly participating around the house.
The first step is to pick age-appropriate chores for 4 year olds; let’s take a look at some ideas!
Related: The Ultimate Guide to Home Preschool
Why are Chores for 4 Year Olds Beneficial?
Some parents may think that their kids don’t need to have chores, but evidence shows the opposite. Responsibilities make kids feel like they are part of the family and special; they have a special role!
While giving my child chores certainly helps me around the house, it’s a double benefit because chores keep them busy! When my kids are getting wild and they need an activity, a show, or to go run outside and play, I can give them a chore instead.
This is helpful to me and I also don’t have to plan an activity or ruin their brains with screen time.
It has several other benefits, such as:
- Teaching kids responsibility.
- Developing a feeling of independence.
- How to work well with others.
- Sensory outlet if they need to move or do heavy work
- Keeps them busy.
- Develops social skills needed for kindergarten.
- Helps prepare your child for working and playing with others.
Parents are responsible for teaching kids at a young age about responsibility; this is needed as they grow older.
They learn that there is work that needs to be done for their family and household to function smoothly. It also helps your child learn that their family is a team, and they are part of that team.
7 Tips for Setting Chores for Your 4 Year Old
Preschool-aged kids love feeling important, and setting chores for 4 year olds helps them to feel independent.
You want to make sure the tasks aren’t too difficult as this could cause your child to feel frustrated. At the same time, the tasks should be valuable to your family.
Always build on what your child already knows how to do. If he can pour a drink, then he can pour water for the dog.
Here are some other tips to help you set chores for your preschooler.
1. Make Sure Your Child Knows What to Expect – Show, Don’t Tell
Vague instructions are as good as no instructions. Telling your child, especially a young 4 year old, to simply clean your room is vague. Adults may know what that means, but young kids need their expectations clearly shown to them.
Try saying “put all of your dirty clothes in the hamper and put the books on the bookshelf. Make sure all of the dishes are in the sink.”
Be as clear as possible; not just with words, but by showing them. Model the right way to do a chore before making them do it.
Perform the chore in front of them. Show them the before and after as to what you expect. Have them d the chore in front of you as you tell them if they’re doing it right or wrong.
2. Don’t Expect Perfection
No one is perfect, and that includes your 4 year old. If you expect your preschooler to complete chores perfectly (or up to your standards), you will be disappointed.
The reality is that chores may not be done perfectly, but if they are completed to the best of their abilities, that is the best that you can expect. If you expect anything more, chances are you will both end up disappointed, and you may be tempted to jump in and do it yourself.
Don’t! Let them do the chores to the best of their ability.
3. Praise More Than You Criticize
Praise goes a lot further than criticism; kids remember the feeling of praises more than how they feel when you criticized them.
Start praising your child while the chores are in progress; it helps build momentum, especially for younger kids.
Although it’s important to let them know the things they did wrong and how to improve, you want to be sure to point out the things that they have done really well.
4. Add New Chores Slowly
When you decide to give chores for your 4 year olds, you want to add the new chores slowly. Give your child time to get used to doing one chore, and understand how to do it well, before adding a new chore.
Watch how your child handles the chore you set before moving to the next thing. You don’t want to overwhelm them!
5. Be Consistent
Consistency matters. If your kids know that you will follow through, they won’t put off their chores, and they will know you mean it when you want it completed.
Consistent effects help your kids know what to expect. If your kids get toys out, expect them to clean up before moving to the next task. If they spill their drink, they have to wipe it up.
If you want them to vacuum their room every Tuesday, make sure it’s done every Tuesday. If they’re supposed to always put their pajamas in the hamper after getting dressed, make sure it is done every morning.
If they skip a chore, there may be a punishment, something gets taken away, or just simply remind them each time.
If my daughter doesn’t put her clothes in the hamper and just leaves them on the floor, I will try not to clean it up for her. I’ll wait until she gets home from school and remind her what chore she missed.
6. Use a Timer
I love timers for kid chores. If your preschooler is like mine, they quickly become dramatic and say they’ll be doing chores “forever.” A timer shows them that they really won’t be doing it forever.
You also can set tasks like clean up as much as you can until the timer goes off.
Visual timers work great for little ones. They may not know what numbers mean so if they can see time moving, they will understand better.
7. Use Chore Charts or Chore Cards
In some cases, a daily schedule, including chore charts or chore cards, are great incentives for your preschooler to complete their tasks. Hang the chart somewhere your preschooler can see and know what needs to be completed.
Chore charts help your child keep track of their progress, and if you want, you can offer a reward or incentives for completing their tasks each week. Some adults find chore charts for themselves; it maps out what is needed to be done!
Above is a simple chore chart that you can purchase on Etsy. This is a great starter chore chart for toddlers and preschoolers as well.
Related Post: Daily Schedule for Working at Home With Kids
8. Give Your Child Appropriately Sized Tools
Giving your child tools that are too large for them and awkward makes it harder to complete the tasks you give them. If you give them better sized tools, it becomes easier.
The mini Dyson vacuum is a kids toy but actually picks things up with real suction! However, at 4 years old they should be perfectly find handling a small handheld vacuum though.
Instead of using safe metal knives, use kid-safe silicone knives. This is great when you want your kids to help with chores in the kitchen.
9. Use Visuals
This is especially helpful for cleaning up toys. Use pictures of objects to show where they go in playrooms and kids rooms.
This will make it very easy for them to clean up after themselves by putting things in their proper spaces.
10. Make it fun or a game
My 4 year old will literally do ANYTHING for a game. First one to the door, wins! First one to grab the vacuum and start vacuuming wins! Whoever picks up the most clothes off the floor wins!
Seriously, it works EVERY time! Try to make chores fun by offering rewards or prizes or just making it a race.
36 Chores for 4 Year Olds
Here are some chores your preschooler will be able to successful manage after learning how to complete them. Model how to complete the tasks for your child!
Put toys away
Pick up trash or things around a room
Mop with a small mop or swiffer
Fill pet’s food dish
Put dirty clothes in the hamper
Wipe up spills
Make their bed
Move laundry from washer to the dryer
Fold washcloths, hand towels, and other small items
Use a hand-held vacuum
Put away clean clothes (your child will need help to avoid unfolding the clothes)
Put clothes on hangers
Sort & fold socks
Empty trash bins
Bring in the mail
Help put groceries away
Set the table for dinner
Clear the table after a meal
Unload utensils from the dishwasher
Wash plastic dishes in the sink
Wipe down counters in the kitchen
Water indoor plants
Sweeping the patio or deck
Clean their space in the car
Wipe door handles and light switches
Wiping counters in the bathroom
Pick clothes for the next day
Brush teeth independently
Brush their hair
Wash hands after using the bathroom
Make a sandwich
Wash fruits and vegetables
Chop vegetables and fruit – use kid safe knives.
Get your kids involved around the house, and these chores for 4 year olds help feel like they are part of the family. It gives them a sense of responsibility, which all kids need.