Image by: Gordon

Mealtime Helper

Age Range
3-9 yrs
Setup Time
No set-up time required!
Setup Location

Doing household chores has many benefits—academically, emotionally and even professionally. Giving children household chores at an early age helps to build a lasting sense of mastery, responsibility and self-reliance, according to research by Marty Rossmann, professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota. She found that young adults who began chores at ages 3 and 4 were more likely to have good relationships with family and friends, to achieve academic and early career success and to be self-sufficient, as compared with those who didn’t have chores or who started them as teens.

Chores also teach children how to be empathetic and responsive to others’ needs, notes psychologist Richard Weissbourd of the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Seek your child's help in planning and organizing your meals at the dinner table!


1. Ask your child during mealtime to help set the table and carry covered bowls of food — not hot — to the table

2. Trust them with handling a carton of milk or juice

3. Ask your child to clean up after a meal by putting dishes in the sink or dishwasher

Note: Keep allowances and chores separate! Research suggests that external rewards can actually lower intrinsic motivation and performance. With chores, psychologists say that money can lessen a child’s motivation to help, turning an altruistic act into a business transaction.

Disclaimer: This presents an overview of child development. It is important to keep in mind that the time frames presented are averages and some children may achieve various developmental milestones earlier or later than the average but still be within the normal range of development. This information is presented to help parents understand, at a high level, what to expect from their child. Any questions/concerns you may have about your child’s development should be shared with your doctor.