Chores List for Older Kids and Teens

Teen girl washing dishes while her father dries

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It can be hard to know what chores to give your teen. It can be even harder to get your teen to do the chores you assign.

Performing household chores teach young people responsibility and can help your child learn to be a good citizen. It's also part of growing up. Someday, your teen will either be living on their own or with a roommate, friend, or partner. The skills they'll acquire through doing chores will serve them throughout their adult lives.

Teens are capable of doing practically any household chore that adults can do. However, they will need direction and guidance as they learn how to do chores correctly. Guidance is not the same as nagging. Start by showing your teen how to do a specific chore and then monitor their work to ensure they can do it on their own.

For example, if your teen isn't cleaning the bathroom in a sanitary manner, or if their lawn mowing technique leaves a lot to be desired, consider it a teachable moment. Make your expectations clear and actually demonstrate how you'd like a chore to be done.

Chores are a way to teach your teen about adult life. You can also weave money-managing skills into chores: consider giving your teen an allowance for doing certain chores or link chores to specific privileges.

Make it clear that hard work leads to rewards, just like hard work at a future job will lead to a paycheck.

Keep in mind, some teens do not have the skill to start, maintain, and/or complete a task—much less a full list of chores. If your teen is struggling, take notes about what they need to correct, then work together to determine the skills that are needed for your teen to be successful in navigating and completing the task you've assigned them.

You can also use Grandma's Rule of Discipline, which ties a task to a specific incentive or privilege. Tell your teen that they can spend time with friends as soon as their chores are done. If they are motivated to see their friends, they will likely work hard to get the chores done.

Consider Safety Issues

Most teens are mature enough to do chores with little to no supervision. That said, every teen is different. Carefully consider your teen's skill level before creating their chore list.

Make sure that your teen is aware of and educated about common safety concerns and household hazards. Teach them what to do to prevent accidents as well as ensure that they know what to do if something happens.

For example, household chemicals can be a hazard. Talk to your teen about the importance of not combining chemicals and discuss ventilation issues. Make sure to discuss what to do if your teen accidentally gets a chemical on their skin or in their eyes.

Before allowing your teen to use the stove, lawnmower, weed whacker, power tools, or other appliances, go over safety issues. Supervise your teen before you allow them to use those items independently.

Make sure they know and practice safety precautions, such as knowing how to handle extension cords (for example, never plugging in a cord that's frayed or wet).

Teach Care for Belongings

Teach your teen to keep their personal space clean. This might involve keeping their bedroom clean and making sure their things are organized when they're in common areas of the house. The chores you assign should be things that will help your teen recognize the importance of taking care of their personal items.

Here are a few examples of chores that are a good fit for most teens:

  • Making their bed (including changing the sheets)
  • Organizing their closet
  • Putting their clothes away
  • Putting items back where they belong
  • Sweeping or vacuuming their bedroom

Teach Responsibility

While all chores instill responsibility, creating a chore list that includes caring for other people, pets, or plants, gives your teen a chance to be in charge.

These chores show your teen that you trust them and that you feel they are responsible enough to have someone (or something) depend on them.

Consider including a few of these items on your teen's chore list:

  • Babysitting younger siblings
  • Brushing the pets outside to reduce shedding indoors
  • Feeding the pet
  • Making lunch for siblings
  • Walking the pet or cleaning litter
  • Washing the pet and/or pet’s things
  • Watering plants

Teach Citizenship

Give your teen a variety of chores. You might consider having siblings swap duties from month to month or week to week just to make sure everyone has practice doing each chore.

To help instill a sense of community responsibility, include chores that involve caring for common areas in the home:

  • Cleaning refrigerator shelves and door (inside and out)
  • Cleaning the bathroom sink, mirror, and toilet
  • Cleaning the kitchen counters
  • Cooking dinner (you can provide instructions)
  • Dusting the living room, bedrooms, and office space
  • Emptying the dishwasher or washing dishes
  • Mopping the floors
  • Organizing bookshelves
  • Organizing drawers
  • Organizing the food in the pantry
  • Organizing the garage
  • Sanitizing surfaces
  • Shampooing the carpets
  • Straightening up the living room
  • Sweeping the kitchen and bathroom floors
  • Taking care of items for recycling
  • Taking the trash out to the street for pick up or loading into the car to take to the transfer station
  • Vacuuming living room, hallways, bedrooms, and stairs
  • Vacuuming the furniture
  • Washing and drying laundry
  • Washing windows

Assign Chores by Season

You can also change or assign chores based on the season. Depending on where you live, there are some tasks that might only need doing part of the year (such as shoveling snow).

Spring and Summer

Warmer weather may mean more opportunities to do outdoor chores. And summer vacation is a great time to assign more chores. Here are some summer chore list ideas:

  • Cleaning outdoor furniture
  • Gathering unwanted items to donate or sell at a yard sale
  • Getting outdoor items out of storage and ready for use
  • Helping with landscaping projects, like spreading mulch or building a rock wall
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Trimming the bushes
  • Vacuuming the car
  • Washing outdoor items, like boats, ATVs, campers, or other outdoor items
  • Washing the car
  • Weeding the garden

Fall Chores

During the fall months, you may need certain outdoor chores done, especially yard work. Here are some fall chores teens can do:

  • Blowing the leaves off the driveway
  • Cleaning out the garden
  • Cleaning outdoor items and help store them for winter
  • Helping clean the gutters
  • Raking the lawn

Winter Chores

If you live in a cold climate, there's a good chance you'll need help with snow removal. Here are some cold-weather chores you might add to your teen's chore list:

  • Cleaning snow off the car(s)
  • Shoveling the walkway/driveway

Encourage a Good Work Ethic

Work with your teen on identifying a regular chore schedule. Give your teen daily chores, as well as bigger chores to do on the weekends or during school vacations.

Use chores as a way to help your teen become more responsible, but make sure your teen doesn't take on too many chores. Find a healthy balance that will give your child the chance to acquire valuable life skills and still have plenty of time to do homework and have some fun.

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Article Sources
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  1. Chores and Responsibility. American Academy of Pediatrics. Updated November 21, 2015.

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