Kids and Chores: What’s Safe and What Isn’t?

April 12, 2017

Kids can start doing chores pretty early on in their development; it’s just a matter of finding the right chores for each child. Toddlers shouldn’t be mowing the lawn or cleaning with bleach, but they can put away their toys or help with dusting. It’s not a matter of if a child should be doing chores, but what chores are appropriate for them. In order to find the chores that are safe for your kiddo, it’s important to consider age, if they should be supervised, the safety hazards in your home, and the positives associated with having your child contribute to the overall wellness of your home.


Keeping Age in Mind


Your child’s age and abilities should decide what chores they should be doing. There are a ton of helpful lists out there to help you decide which chores are appropriate for them, which are safe, and if you’re setting expectations too high (or too low). You don’t want to start asking your little one to complete chores that they don’t have the attention span or motor skills to perform, because they will feel discouraged (and asking too much could cause some chores to become unsafe). Keep the younger children’s chores close to the floor and away from any chemicals. Putting toys in a toy box or putting their clothes in a dirty clothes bin are acceptable tasks for them to complete, but older kids can obviously be doing more. The important thing to keep in mind is that chores too advanced for their age lead to safety issues. However, you can just as easily find chores that fit them perfectly.


Supervised Chores


Some chores are acceptable for your child’s age and abilities but should still be supervised in order for them to stay safe. Cleaning the bathroom is a great chore for kids once they reach an appropriate age, but in order to deep clean the bathroom thoroughly, you may need to supervise them because of slipping hazards and chemicals.  Teenagers are probably fine to clean throughout the house without supervision, but younger kids may need a watchful eye. By taking note of the hazards in your home, and how often your child helps with certain chores, you will have good judgment on the tasks you need to supervise. The more often your kiddo helps out, the better they will get with helping without supervision.


Some of the most common safety hazards in your home are hazards your children may be faced with when cleaning the home including access to sharp cutlery doing dishes, accidents with the stove while cleaning the kitchen, ingesting chemicals while using cleaning products, swallowing small items found on the floor when putting toys away, etc. To avoid these common issues, keep an eye on them and communicate which aspects of cleaning are hazardous to your kiddos.


Safety Hazards


Cleaning chemicals, slipping, and outdoor tools are just a few hazards associated with household chores. Chemicals can cause rashes or poisoning, slipping on wet surfaces can cause breaks or concussions, and using outdoor tools wrong can cause severe injury. Even common prescription medications you may have left in drawers are some of the strongest opiates available and can be extremely dangerous for your children to find. Make sure your cleaning chemicals are kept away from small hands to grab, and that your kids know how dangerous they are, and the appropriate way to clean with them. Make sure you teach your kids how to safely use a lawn mower or weed whacker so that they don’t run into safety issues with them. Keep prescription medication locked away, prevent tripping hazards, and teach your children about common hazards in their chore list and supervise them until they get the hang of it.


Tell you children which chores require more than one person, such as always having someone holding a ladder if you’re on it, never getting into the cleaning chemicals unless a parent is around (for little kids), or to be very careful not to fall when mopping. If you’re ever overly concerned about your child’s ability to complete a potentially dangerous chore, take it off their chore list until you’re certain of their safety.


Building Ethics


Don’t let the fear of injury keep you from allowing your children to help with household chores. Having your children be responsible for keeping their own environment clean and contributing to their home will provide them with valuable ethics they can carry with them throughout their lives. Teaching responsibility can be tricky for any parent, but many children thrive when they are given responsibilities and always love to help. Chores don’t have to be awful either; many younger children love turning chores into something fun and love doing what their siblings or parents are doing. They love feeling trusted and helpful, and you’ll be doing them a favor by allowing them to contribute. As long as you supervise them and give them tasks appropriate for their age, the positives associated with household chores definitely outweigh the negatives.

There may be hazards involved in some household chores, but you can take steps to ensure they are being safe. Give them chores in accordance with their abilities, supervise any worrisome tasks, be mindful of any household hazards, and build their character by allowing them to be a helpful member of the family. Some chores are dangerous and that’s okay as long as you and your children have discussed the risks and what to avoid, or how to be safe. Ultimately, the character they gain from completing the chores override the potential dangers as long as you’re taking all necessary precautions.

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