If you are wondering how to teach your kid responsibility, showing him or her how to do age-appropriate chores is a good way to start. Choose some good chores for toddlers and instill a sense of pride, self-confidence and independence in your child from early childhood.
Why Toddlers Should Do Chores
Toddlers are capable of doing more than most adults realize. Giving them the opportunity to help with housework and yard work helps develop their large and small motor skills, and they will need these skills later when they begin to read and write.
Doing chores keeps them physically active and helps limit the amount of screen time spent in front of a television or computer. Best of all, when parents and kids share the responsibility for caring for their homes, they grow closer together as a family.
Fun Chores for Kids to Do Indoors
Most kids love to help with housework if you make it seem like fun. So, if you want your toddler to take a stack of washcloths to the bathroom, why not ask him or her to help you make a delivery? Tell them something like this, “I need these washcloths delivered to the bathroom. Do you think you can deliver them and come back before I can count to 20?”
Most kids will grab the washcloths and dash off to the bathroom with them before you can even start counting. Be creative in your approach to teaching them practical life skills they’ll need later in life such as how to do household chores properly, and you will be surprised at how quickly they catch on and how eager they are to help.
Here’s some ideas for age appropriate chores for toddlers:
- Pour water into a pet’s water dish.
- Measure and pour dry foods into a food dish.
Bedrooms or Sleeping Areas
- Pick up toys and put them away.
- Put dirty clothes in the hamper.
- Sweep the floor with a child-sized broom.
- Mop the floor with a kid-sized mop.
- Arrange pillows or stuffed toys on the bedspread.
- Help make the bed.
Kitchen and Dining Room
- Put silverware (excluding sharp knives) on the table for meals and clear it away after meals.
- Set the table with unbreakable tableware (if it isn’t too heavy), and take the tableware off after dinner.
- Use a child-sized pitcher to pour water or other beverages into glasses for serving with meals.
- Wipe down the table before and after meals and set out the place mats.
- Load the dishwasher with unbreakable, non-sharp items.
- Wash dishes (excluding knives and breakable items).
- Unpack lightweight, non-breakable items from grocery bags.
Basic Housekeeping Tasks
- Dust the furniture.
- Clean windows with non-toxic cleaner and cleaning towels or paper towels.
- Arrange cut flowers in a vase of water.
- Sweep or mop small areas with child-sized tools.
- Water plants.
- Fold small items.
- Match socks or sort lightweight items.
- Carry small items to the appropriate storage place.
Good Chores for Toddlers to Do Outdoors
Kids can be as helpful outdoors as they are indoors if you take the time to teach them some simple tasks. You might want to invest in some kid-sized yard tools or a wagon to make it more fun for them to pitch in and help. Here’s some ideas for yard tasks most toddlers should be able to do:
- Pick up stones, sticks and twigs, and other small objects. Put them in buckets or load them in the wagon and carry or haul them to another location.
- Water, weed and care for plants in a garden or flowers in a flower bed.
- Harvest vegetables from a garden, load them into the wagon, and transport them to the house.
- Pick up stones and place them around the borders of flower beds, gardens or trees to enhance the landscape.
- Dig small holes and transplant hardy seedlings or put plant seeds into the hole and cover them up.
- Rake leaves into a pile.
- Put leaves into the wagon and haul them to the leave pile.
Appropriate Chores for Kids
When you are trying to decide what the most appropriate chores for your children might be, keep in mind their physical size and their degree of physical maturity. For instance, have they developed a pincher grip yet or are they still struggling to master the concept of grasping an item, holding it briefly, putting it down and then picking it back up?
Start by asking them to do easy things like picking up lightweight toys and small objects and add tasks as you see their gross and fine motor skills and strength increasing. Keep training sessions short when teaching them new tasks because toddlers have extremely short attention spans. If your child is tired or doesn’t feel well, stop and try a new task when they are rested or feel better.
Develop a short list of good chores for toddlers that match your child’s skills and abilities, and then use those on a regular basis to teach your child how to be responsible. Learning how to follow verbal instructions and be self-motivated in performing daily tasks prepares them for the transition from a home environment to an academic environment. Be patient with them as they are learning how to do housework, and remember you are also helping them become more self-confident and self-reliant individuals.
Image by clogozm under CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr