Chores are an important part of self-development. They teach responsibility and instill pride, providing the foundation for developing a strong work ethic. In fact, children as young as two years old can start performing simple, age-appropriate chores.
By requiring your toddler to help with certain chores, you will teach them to contribute to your household community in a productive way. Children who lack the responsibility of chores will eventually grow up to feel a sense of entitlement or may be poor at cleaning up after themselves as adults.
Start healthy behaviors early by choosing a few small, age-appropriate tasks for toddlers to complete.
Every child develops at a slightly different pace. Some little ones may be ready for simple chores shortly after their first birthday. Others will be closer to two years old before they have the capacity. Use your judgment and don’t force something that seems to be beyond your child’s development.
Pick Up Toys.Picking up a small number of toys and placing them in a bin or basket requires minimal dexterity and is a great choice for 1-2 year olds. Begin teaching your toddler to pick up toys when they are done playing or ready to move on to a different activity.
As a parent, you will have to help them. Some days they will participate and others they may not do as well. Keep up with it. Eventually, they will learn what is expected and begin picking up their toys independently.
Put Dirty Laundry in the Hamper. Similar to picking up toys, it requires very little skill to pick up a piece of clothing and place it in the hamper. By encouraging your little one to help with this task, he or she will learn that this is where dirty clothes go. As they get older, they will be more likely to use the hamper and keep a tidy room.
Retrieve Diapers and Wipes. If you keep diapers and wipes in an area that is accessible, try getting your toddler to retrieve these items when it is time for a diaper change. This is a very small baby step towards independence and future potty training habits.
Throw Away Small Trash. Teach them what goes in the trash bin and have them take these items to the trash on their own. Be careful, they will try to throw some non-trash things away. We have lost more than a few utensils and children's plates this way. Keep working on it, letting them know what belongs and what does not.
Toddlers develop rapidly in the first few years. You will be surprised at the difference that 3 months or 6 months can make in your toddler's ability to perform small tasks. Try introducing a new chore that is a little harder than what you think they can do. Most little ones will surprise you and rise to the occasion.
Put Clothes Away. If you label drawers with pictures of clothing items, this becomes a simple matching game where your toddler can learn to identify different types of clothing and match them with the appropriate drawer.
Feed the Pet.With supervision from a parent, a toddler can easily scoop kibble or fill a water bowl. The responsibility of taking care of a pet teaches children to be nurturing and caring and may help develop empathy.
Water Houseplants. Use a special watering cup that is pre-measured. Mark a line on the cup and have the toddler fill to the line and then pour in each plant that is within their reach.
Wipe up Small Spills. Toddlers make messes. As hard as they try, they just don’t have the dexterity and spilled drinks or dropped food are part of the gig. But they can help clean up small messes. Show them where to get a rag or paper towel, wipe up the mess, and whether to discard in the laundry or trash.
Put Coat and Shoes Away. Designate a spot for shoes and a hook within reach for coats and teach your little one to put these items away when they arrive at home. Not only is this an easy chore that they can complete independently, but it will help keep these items off of the floor.
As your child begins to grow out of the toddler phase, he or she should be mastering all of the chores on the toddler checklist. And, some may be advancing to more difficult chores like making their bed or using a handheld vacuum.
Set the Table. With assistance on heavy or breakable items, toddlers can handle sorting out dishes to set the table. They can carry items like spoons, forks, plastic cups, or plates and place them at each place setting.
Help Put Groceries Away. Another version of a sorting chore, toddlers can learn where different types of food go in the kitchen. They can help with putting away anything that is within their reach or that is not too heavy.
Help Brush Their Teeth. While children often do not have the dexterity to brush independently until they are around 8 years old, they can start learning by brushing first around age 3 or 4. Then mom or dad can finish the job to make sure that they are getting a complete brushing in.
Help Make the Bed. A 3 or 4-year-old may not be big enough to maneuver a fitted sheet on their bed alone, but they can help with simple tasks. You can have them place pillows or smooth wrinkles while you make the bed.
Dust Large Furniture. You might not want to task them with dusting collectibles or anything breakable, but toddlers can almost certainly handle a microfiber cloth and large surfaces like end tables, consoles, and tv stands.
Toddlers are capable of more than you think. Assigning chores and encouraging their help with household tasks is an important part of their development. Chores teach responsibility and instill pride, eventually leading to the development of a good work ethic.