The Power of Chores: The importance of incorporating chores into a child’s routine

August 1st, 2019
Mary McCollum - High Hopes Dubai

Mary McCollum

OTD, OTR/L, Occupational Therapist

The Power of Chores: The importance of incorporating chores into a child’s routine - High Hopes Dubai

“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and – SNAP – the job’s a game!” – Mary Poppins 2

Chores present teaching opportunities and can provide a positive influence in the following ways:

  • Teaching responsibility: gaining insight into what is required to take care of something or complete a specific task 1,4
  • Leadership opportunities: helping other siblings or taking care of pets 4
  • Learning competence: ability to complete daily activities for independence in adolescence and transitioning to adulthood 3
  • Provides a feeling of contributing 5
  • Instills good work ethic 3,6
  • Can be fun if you make it a game 2

Chores are a necessary part of contributing to a household and are a part of an individual’s daily activities. Just as play is important to helping children reach their developmental milestones, chores can help them to learn and develop as well. It is important to know how to complete chores to successfully transition to adolescence and adulthood.3 Having chores can teach children sequencing, help them learning responsibilities and meet deadlines; these skills can lead to school success as well as increased independence.4,6 Completing activities and chores together provides opportunities to develop strong bonds and relationships.5 There isn’t one right way to introduce chores. Chores will look different for every family and for every child’s abilities. Some may find it is best to have the same chores while others will find it is better to have a chore list that changes. Some families may require chores to be done because you are part of the family and others may decide to use rewards or allowances for chores completed.1 Learning from the perspective of Mary Poppins we can make completing chores fun.

Tips for chores:

  • A chore chart can help provide a list of things that need done around the house and be a helpful reminder.
  • Provide proper instructions for your child. If they have never done something before don’t expect them to do it alone.
  • Praise your children for his or her efforts and don’t expect perfection.
  • Start to incorporate chores when your child is ready — there is no magic age.

How to make chores a game:

  • Do chores together
  • Make picking up a dance party
  • Find all the red objects and put them away
  • Play basket ball with soft toys or clothes to put them away
  • Add make believe

Chore ideas:

  • tidy up their toys
  • put dirty clothes in hamper
  • put trash in the bin
  • wipe up spills
  • make his/her bed
  • clear table
  • wash plastic dishes at the sink
  • fix bowl of cereal for self
  • sort laundry
  • set and clear the table
  • make lunch
  • load dishwasher
  • put away groceries
  • help make dinner
  • make own snack
  • make his/her bed
  • wipe down table
  • unload dishwasher
  • cook simple meals with supervision
  • change their bed sheets

Questions or Concerns:

Talk to an occupational therapist; I am always happy to answer questions or concurs you or your family may be facing. Occupational therapists work with children and families to ensure that your child is able to participate in age appropriate everyday activities. These tasks can include skills necessary to complete chores. You can also talk to your occupational therapist about what skills are needed for particular chores and what chores may be appropriate for your child. Remember chores can be fun.

At High Hopes, occupational therapy (OT) is among the therapies we offer to support children and their families to participate in desired activities. We are always happy to assist families in helping their children reach milestones, gain independence and set them up for success.


1 Coppens, A.D. & Alcla, L. (2015). Supporting children’s initiative: Appreciating family contributions or paying children for chores. Advances in Child Development and Behavior, 49, 91-112.
2 Disney, W. (Producer), Stevenson, R. (Director). (1964). Mary Poppins [Motion Picture]. United States: Walt Disney Studios.
3 Gall, C., Kingsnorth, S., & Healy, H. (2006).Growing up ready. Physical & Occupational Therapy in pediatrics, 26(4) 47-62.
4 Is your child positioned for school success?. (n.d.).
5 Pediatric Occupational Therapy Practitioners Recommend Participation in Activities to Help Families Build and Foster Healthy Relationships. (n.d.).
6 School Tips for Parents: Academic Success & Social Participation. (n.d.).