Looking for tips on how to involve your preschooler in household chores? These chores for 4 year olds are a great place to start!
I’ve always been pretty big on including my children in household tasks and chores from a very young age. Toddlers and preschoolers love to help, so why wouldn’t I take advantage of that?! Both of my kids have been pretty involved in cleaning and other various household chores from a very young age, and I’m always looking for ways to build on it.
My youngest is 4, and it can be tricky to come up with chores for 4 year olds. They’re old enough to think they can do just about everything, but still young enough that they often just make a mess instead of helping! Here’s a list of things my preschooler loves to do around the house that is actually helpful for me!
Why Start Chores So Young?
Listen, I know it might seem like a lot of work to teach your child how to do chores when they’re so little. I get it! You want to let them be little – I do too! But at the same time, our kiddos brains are developing so rapidly at this age, and they’re constantly looking for new things to try and learn.
Adding some basic chores into the routine for even the youngest kids is a fantastic way to capitalize on their natural curiosity and love of learning. Most kids go through a phase around this age of wanting to help with everything, so if you can slow down and little and start teaching them a few things, you’ll find they can actually become proficient at it! This is great for them, because you’re teaching them new skills, they’re getting to help out, and you’re beginning to teach essential life lessons that they’ll use forever.
Plus, do you really want to wait until they’re cranky preteens before you start introducing chores? That’s way harder. I promise, your future self will thank you if your kids are already in a regular routine of chores by the time they reach the age where helping isn’t so fun anymore.
Tips for Getting Started
- One key to making this work seamlessly is consistency. Young kids thrive in routine, so set up a chore routine for them so they can practice every day or every week!
- Lavish them with praise, especially when you’re getting started. You want to make them feel successful and like a BIG KID so it feels exciting and fun.
- Have patience. They won’t get it right the first time, and maybe not even the 10th. You’re doing the work now to invest in making your life (and their life) easier later.
- Add them in slowly. Don’t try to start your kid off with seven different chores! Add in one at a time, wait until they’ve got a solid mastery of it, and then slowly add in others.
Age Appropriate Chores for 4 Year Olds
Here’s a list of 10 things my four year old helps out with around the house, along with some tips.
Doing the Dishes
My oldest child is in charge of unloading the dishwasher, but my 4 year old loves to help him! He can sort silverware into the drawers and put anything away in the lower cabinets.
On this note, my 4 year old is also in charge of clearing his plate after dinner. He can take it into the kitchen, throw away any leftover scraps, and put his plate in the sink. Our next step is loading the plate into the dishwasher, but his older sibling and his dang father haven’t even mastered that task yet soooo I’m not hopeful. Haha!
Grant gets so excited when he sees me pull out the vacuum! We have a lightweight cordless one, so sometimes I’ll just hand it over to him and let him go to town. Does he do a good job? Absolutely not. But, he’s learning!
If I want him to actually be helpful, sometimes I’ll had over the smaller handheld vacuum and have him clean specific spots. He can vacuum dog hair off the couch, crumbs off the table, etc.
My four year old can more or less do all of his laundry on his own. He needs some supervision and prompting, but the basic skills have been fully mastered!
Here’s a breakdown of the skills he uses:
- When he gets undressed at the end of the day, he puts his dirty clothes in the hamper.
- Once a week, he brings it down to the laundry room (with some help).
- He can independently load up the clothes into the washer. This may be harder if you have a top loader!
- We use laundry pods, so he adds the soap himself.
- I walk him through pushing the buttons to start it (he’s seen me do it enough now that he can probably do it alone)
- When it’s done, he can independently move the clothes to the dryer and I help him start it.
- He can load the clothes back into the hamper, and needs some help carrying it upstairs.
- Then, he helps me sort his clothes into categories. He can put away everything except for the shirts that need hanging!
We added these steps slowly over time. You can start with simple stuff like having them match socks, or even just putting clothes in the laundry basket. But, over time you’ll find even younger kids can tackle the laundry!
An obvious one, but one that requires definite work: picking up toys! Every evening I have my kids go around the downstairs of our house and clean up all of their things. Grant still needs a fair amount of prompting to get this done (younger siblings love to rely on the older kids to do all of the work for them, you know?), but he’s perfectly capable!
It might not be the most thorough dusting job ever, but 4-year-olds can wipe down tables, shelves, baseboards, etc!
A good way to start working on this skill is to have them clean up their own spills when they happen. It gives them a feel for the process of wiping something up until it’s all gone! Just build on that and move towards other areas of the house.
Putting Away Groceries
Just me, or do your kids also get so excited to help put food in the pantry?! Grant loves to help put the fruits and vegetables in the fridge bins, he knows where most things go in our pantry, and he’s a huge help every week when it’s time to unload groceries.
I’ll admit, I don’t love allowing my kids to help with this because my plants are my babies, but they love to water plants! I’m trying to remind myself that involving them builds their love of plants, too! If you’re a control freak like me you’ll probably want to supervise this task…but I often let the kids just go to town on the outdoor plants that need watering!
Cleaning his room
This is a really hard and abstract skill for kids. It took us a while to learn that just saying “go clean your room” often leaves them feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. So, this is a skill we’re still working directly on with Grant! Once a week or so, I’ll go to his room with him and walk him through cleaning his room. I don’t help, but I do sit with him and guide him. We start with one thing at a time (“put your toys in the toy basket”, “put your books on the shelves”) and slowly but surely we get it all done!
Setting the table
Grant loves to run and grab napkins, silverware, cups, etc. at dinner time. He often volunteers to get drinks for other family members, too! Try setting out all of the dishes needed for family dinner and allowing your 4-year-old to set the table. It’s a totally age-appropriate chore that they’ll be so proud to do.
Here’s a few ideas for this category:
- Raking leaves
- Pulling up weeds
- Picking up toys
- Help bring trash to the curb on trash day
Is your preschooler going to rake leaves as well as you would? Of course not! Remember, this is about teaching good habits and slowly teaching new skills. Let them try it for 5 minutes while you work on something else, then take over and wrap it up.
Both of my kids started to help with feeding our dogs around the age of two. We keep a cup in the dog food container, the kids can easily scoop it up, walk it to the bowl, and pour it in. Sometimes it gets messy, but that’s okay!
Other Skills for Four Year Olds
Here are a few other activities and skills you can start working on with your four year old to make your life easier and teach them some important skills:
- Brushing teeth
- Wiping down the toilet
- Holding the dustpan when you sweep
- Getting dressed/picking out clothes
- Empty the trash can
- Making their own (simple) breakfast and snacks
You can also look for a child-sized mop, brooms, etc. to let them start exploring some of those things!
Adding in a Chore Chart
If you really want to be consistent with it, you can work on adding in a chore chart to build these skills!
Here’s how we’ve done this in the past:
- Make a list of chores you want your child to work on each day. At this age, it should be no more than 3-5.
- Pick a time of day for them to work on it. I think mornings are best, because it’ll help create great habits and build a good work ethic to get their work done before they play.
- Buy or make your chore chart, and put it somewhere central. We put ours on the fridge!
- If you want, you can choose a few rewards for when they consistently complete their chores with a good attitude!
And that’s it! We aren’t currently using a chore chart with our kids and instead just have a habit of reminding them what needs to be done. But, come summer time I’ll definitely be implementing a more stringent routine to keep everyone on track!
What are your favorite chores for 4 year olds in your house?