Are You Choosing the Right Chores?


At this age, it's a pride thing. "Kids love to show off their skills," says Greenfield. Work with this need to please by doling out more specific projects that require some independence. Should you reward with allowance? Up to you -- but many experts suggest that it's best not to tie a pay-out to generally helping around the house (which they should do anyway!) at this age.

Perfect Pitch-Ins

  • Go green. With clearly marked bins for paper, plastic, and aluminum, your kid can handle sorting recyclables.
  • Make the bed. A 4- or 5-year-old can pull up his blanket and arrange the pillows (no hospital corners required).
  • Rake it up. Give your child a mini rake and the promise of some pile-jumping at the end.
  • Play Mr. Postman. Have your kid bring in the mail and help you open/sort the loot.
  • Build her own breakfast. Cheerios or Rice Krispies? Let your child choose -- and grab her own bowl, milk, and fruit while she's at it.
  • Water the plants. A pint-sized watering pot will ensure that your child can flex his green thumbs -- without drowning your daisies.

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