Too young for chores?

I was horrified the other day when my soon-to-be 6-year-old son attempted to wash his plate after he had finished eating. I was so hurt when I saw that.

You might think that I was overreacting.

This was not of my own teaching but that of the new helper who has just joined us. I just felt that he was way too young to be doing that kind of work, firstly how is he going to check the temperature of the water so that he does not burn himself?

When I pasted this concern on my Facebook page, responses differed. Some friends saw this as an overreaction from my side, and others felt that it is wrong for such a young child to be doing such a chore especially if there is help around the house.

I beg to differ with all of them, because having a helper around the house does not mean that children should do nothing. Those who saw me as overreacting mentioned that the helper was teaching him responsibility, which is a good thing or this was perhaps his way of exploring on his own.

One mentioned how her 4-year-son would go and fetch the mop after spilling water – cute you might think, but shame man, isn’t he a bit young for that?

In the rural areas it is not unusual to see a young girl carrying a big bucket of water on her head from the river or collecting wood, or young boys herding cattle in most cases leaving them will less time to just be kids and play. Children have responsibilities which to me at times are not age appropriate.

This got me thinking of what is an appropriate age when children can start doing certain chores around the house. Yes, my boy has his tasks around the house like collecting his toys when he is done playing with them, he takes his plate to the kitchen when done with his meal – but not to the point that he washes the plate. 

As he grows older I will add more to his responsibilities but am taking it step by step at the moment.

I am all for teaching the child responsibility but also believe in taking things one step at a time. He will get there let’s just not rush the process. I hope I am not getting all soft on him ‘ndiphethwe yinimba’ (when a parent shows the utmost tenderness and patience towards her child).

Read more by Masanda Peter

What chores should children do at what ages? Comment below or mail your thoughts to

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.
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