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Best Chores for Teenagers: How to Instill Good Habits

Reading time: 9 minutes
Written by
| Updated on
June 5, 2024
Reviewed by parenting expert
chores for teenagers - teen girl making the bed

What you’ll learn

Chores for teenagers, though often met with reluctance, cultivate vital life skills, fostering responsibility and independence essential for adulthood. Discover in this article effective strategies for motivating your teen to embrace household chores.

Few, if any, teenagers wake up in the morning with a burning desire to take on the chore list where they live. However, despite the lack of desire to take on these tasks, doing so often proves useful for the teenager later in life. Chores for teenagers are not only a good idea to help ensure that everything around the house gets done, but they also provide valuable life skills that the teenager will carry with them for the remainder of their lives. They might not realize it in the moment as they are doing those chores, and they may even complain about having to do the work, but it is slowly but surely improving their skills. 

Unfortunately, society might be losing sight of the fact that chores can be so helpful for teenagers. There are seemingly more and more people who don’t understand the value that they are potentially robbing their children of by not requiring them to do chores. 

Today, we will push back against that with a set of facts about how important chores are for teenagers and why parents should still move to insist that their teenagers perform chores regularly around the house. 

Understand the Importance of Teenage Chores

When children reach a certain age they start to become more capable of handling certain tasks that were previously the sole responsibility of their parents. The exact moment this happens may differ from child to child, but most children are able to take care of routine chores by the time they reach their teenage years, typically in high school. Therefore, it is certainly worthwhile to consider setting up a schedule of chores for teenagers to do when they reach that age. 

A list of chores that are appropriate for teenagers might include some of the following: 

  • Maintaining the cleanliness of their own room;
  • Vacuuming;
  • Mopping;
  • Grocery shopping;
  • Cooking dinner;
  • Doing the dishes;
  • Taking out the trash;
  • Raking leaves;
  • Babysitting;
  • Walking the dog (if applicable).

There are quite a few things that teenagers are capable of, and we should be be pushing to best understand the ways that teenagers truly benefit from actively participating in maintaining the space where they live. 

Teenager cleaning furniture, showing responsibility.

Credits: Pexels

Teach Life Skills Through Chores

It is now obvious that despite the lack of desire that many teenagers may exhibit about doing chores, it is still good for them to do so. They develop life skills that will help them with other aspects of their lives as they enter adulthood. What are some of the skills that they are likely to develop by participating in household chores? 

1. Responsibility 

A teenager can help parents by taking on their fair share of the household chores. It helps to remove some of the workload off the shoulders of the parents. Not only that, but the teenager gets the added benefit of having a sense of responsibility over the chores that they are assigned. This can provide them with a sense of work ethic and the knowledge that failure to perform their duties means that those tasks won’t get done at all. That is a big deal and can instill a sense of responsibility over their daily chores in the heart and mind of your teenager. 

2. Time Management

There are only so many hours in the day, and most of us are guilty of letting time slip out of our hands wastefully. In fact, a disturbing report shows that the average amount of screen time per day for the average American teenager these days is 7 hours and 22 minutes. That’s nearly half of all waking hours! 

We can all stand to do better at managing our time and cutting out certain time-wasters, and it can begin in the teenage years. Giving teenagers a set of chores to handle each day can help them improve and fine-tune their time management skills. 

3. Teamwork and Cooperation

As a society, we often think of the skills of teamwork and cooperation as something that one learns on an athletic team. Indeed, those skills can be honed via sports, but they can also be sharpened by taking on certain chores. There are some tasks around the house that the whole family needs to actively participate in to get done. Preparing food and cleaning up after a meal are great examples of this. The process can be done much more quickly and smoothly when the whole family works on it together. 

Teenagers can learn how to cooperate with other family members and develop a teamwork mentality when they participate in family chores like this. 

4. Problem-Solving Skills 

Figuring out the most effective way to get something done is an excellent way to work on your problem-solving skills. The more efficient that you are at completing your chores, the less time you will have to spend on them. Problem-solving skills are critical to living a productive and happy adult life, and you can begin to harness those skills as a teenager while taking on your chores. 

5. Competence and Autonomy

No one likes to be spoon-fed everything in life, and we all eventually discover that is not how life works anyway. Self-determination theory suggests that true motivation is developed through 3 essential psychological needs. Those needs are: competence, autonomy, and relatedness. In other words, to develop lasting self-esteem, it is necessary for everyone to know that they have value and that they are able to contribute to the work that must get done around them. 

Weekly chores are an excellent way to work on those psychological needs. As those chores are completed, the teenager will feel better about themselves and their ability to handle the tasks prescribed to them completely on their own.

Duster brush cleaning bathroom mirror

Credits: Pexels

Best Chores for Teenagers 

Selecting the best chores for teenagers to become involved in is a process that combines considerations about how competent your teenager is, their specific age, the specific chores that need to be done around the house, and even the season it is because certain chores are more seasonal. 

Keep in mind that there is a fine line between what can be deemed as kids chores and which chores are more appropriate for teenagers. Ideally, your children should graduate from the kids chores that you might have assigned them earlier in life to the types of chores that tweens and teenagers are capable of taking on. When creating a teenage chore list, think about the types of things that could prove to be the most effective use of your teenager’s time. 

👉 Are you dealing with a rebellious teenager? Household tasks can teach responsibility. Find more solutions in “Parents’ Guide to Dealing with Teenage Rebellion: Effective Approaches”.

Assign Age-Appropriate Chores for Teenagers

You are going to make a lot more progress with your chores list when you focus on assigning chores to your teenager based on their interests and abilities. This is why you need to think about which types of chores are appropriate for young children aged 12 and 13 compared to chores for older teenagers aged 15-18.  In fact, you need to think about chores in different categories, such as the following: 

  • Chores for 12 year olds – Walking the dog;
  • Chores for 13 year olds – Packing school lunches;
  • Chores for 14 year olds – Folding laundry;
  • Chores for 15 year olds – Helping to cook meals.

You can also spring in other chores for each age that you consider appropriate. 

These are all things that teenagers are capable of doing. Not only that, but they are routine chores that need to be done time and time again. Getting your teenager in the habit of taking care of them now can help you maintain order in your household while also teaching your teenager the skills that they require. 

Seasonal Chores

There are certain chores that are only handled during certain times of the year. For example, mowing the yard is something that doesn’t need to be done during the winter months. In fact, many yardwork-related chores don’t need to be handled during the coldest months of the year. Therefore, it is best to also create a list of seasonal chores that will be handled by various members of the family. 

The flip side of the coin is that while certain chores don’t necessarily have to be handled during the winter months, there are other chores that are specific to the summer months. For example, it may be necessary for your teenaged children to be responsible for watching over and taking care of younger children in the house during those months. School is typically out in the summer months, but work continues. Therefore, teenagers might need to step up during this time of year to help take care of the other children. Make sure they know ahead of time what is expected of them as far as watching after their younger siblings. 

Create a Teenager Chore Chart 

Keeping track of the chores that are completed and those that are yet to be finished is something that you should always be doing. This is to say that you should set up a chore chart for teenagers. 

This chart will contain a list of the various chores that your teenager is responsible for. Then, next to each chore that they need to do will be a box where that chore can be checked off for the day. Make sure there are enough check-off boxes to cover the entire week. After all, you want to ensure that you have a running list of the progress that your teenager has made. 

A chore chart for teenagers is both helpful for tracking which chores have been completed as well as providing your teenager with the motivation they deserve for a job well done. They need to be able to see the progress made and feel confident that their efforts are being recognized by their parents for their efforts.

Teenager ironing clothes

Credits: Pexels

Motivate Teenagers to do Chores

There are many ways that parents can go about motivating their teenagers to accomplish the chores that they set out for them. It is intrigal to ensure that you keep your teenager motivated to do the right thing and stay on the chores that they are responsible for. A few things worth considering when it comes to motivating your teenagers to take care of their chores include the following: 

  • Asking Yourself How Many Chores Should a Teenager Have? – You need to ensure that you don’t overload your teenager with more than they can reasonably handle on their plate.
  • Encouraging Hard Work – You should encourage your children to perform their duties to the best of their ability from an early age. No one was ever hurt by doing a little hard work, and that kind of work ethic should be encouraged in your household.
  • Promote Self-Sufficiency – You also want to encourage your teenagers to establish habits of self-sufficiency. If they know how to take care of themselves, they will find adulthood easier to take on. 

These are all things that should be done immediately to help encourage teenagers get the motivation that they need to do the chores assigned to them.

Why It’s Not OK to Pay Teenagers for Chores

There are misconceptions about paying teenagers for chores. You might think that you are helping them out, but the reality is that paying teenagers for doing chores around the house creates incentives that shouldn’t exist around chores. 

Chores for kids ought to be viewed as a responsibility that must be completed for the betterment of the family as a whole. If a teenager gets paid for doing them, then they are going to start to view their responsibilities as nothing more than a financial transaction. You do not want to set them up to think about it like this or to feel as though they don’t have to take care of their chores if they don’t want the money. The chores need to get done regardless, so don’t set them up on a payment system. 

Conclusion

Establish routines of encouraging your teenagers to take part in the chores that contribute to the well-being and functioning of your household. It will benefit them directly in their day-to-day life, and it will also help them in the long run. Fostering good behaviors and habits now is the best way to show them that you care about their future going forward. 

If you want to learn how to talk so your teenager listens, join our online masterclass “How to Talk so Kids Will Listen: 3 Proven Methods.” Plus, Sophie, our parenting expert AI assistant, is available 24/7 to answer all your parenting questions.

References

Kolk, S. & Rakic, P. (2022). Development of prefrontal cortex. Neuropsychopharmacology 47:41–57; https://doi.org/10.1038/s41386-021-01137-9

Radomir-Belitoiu, R. (2019). The Relationship between Parental Styles, Anger Management, and Cognitive-Emotional Coping Mechanisms in Adolescents. Journal of Experiential Psychotherapy, 22(4), 17–24.

Raisingchildren.net.au. (n.d.). Privacy, monitoring and trust: pre-teens and teenagers. https://raisingchildren.net.au/pre-teens/communicating-relationships/family-relationships/privacy-trust-teen-years

Sussman, S., Pokhrel, P., Ashmore, R.D. & Brown, B.B. (2007). Adolescent peer group identification and characteristics: A review of the literature. Addictive Behaviors, 32(8), 1602-1627, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2006.11.018

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