We believe in starting life lessons early in childhood, so we start teaching our toddlers responsibility through chores. These are age-appropriate and easy chores for toddlers to learn about responsibility while being included in your family’s daily activities.
I love teaching my daughter to have a sense of responsibility and that to be a productive member of the family means that she has to get involved. At two years old, I started S on some basic chores. It’s my hope that she’ll be a productive member of the family, especially in her teenage years. And, I choose to believe instilling these values early will help her to be a productive member of society as an adult. In order to teach responsibility (and to teach my children I’m not a maid), I chose to start chores early.
Apparently, children benefit from having chores in more ways than I even thought. So, why not start early, right?
Interested in giving your toddler chores? I have a few suggestions!
When Should Toddlers Start Chores?
Most toddlers can handle taking on small, simple tasks as early as about 2 years old, though when a child should start doing chores can be quite different for each family.
Usually, 2- and 3-year-olds think helping mommy is fun so you may decide this is when to start.
Some toddlers may just not be developmentally ready or get frustrated easily, so introduce chores when your family is ready.
The good news is, that showing them the ropes on some easy chores can help them develop motor skills, life skills and to learn responsibility.
What Chores Can a Toddler Do?
Brush Teeth – Good oral hygiene should start early. I typically brush my daughter’s teeth for her and then let her “finish” while I brush my teeth. While I don’t recommend this as a “chore” for older children, it’s not a bad routine to start with the little ones.
Brush Hair – Depending on age, this could be scary. I let my daughter “brush” her hair and then I re-do it for her to get out the knots she makes. Again, you’re simply trying to teach your child to take care of himself/herself.
Load Washer or Dryer – If you have two front-loading machines, your child can put dirty clothes in the wash and clean clothes in to dry. We have a top-loading washer, so it’s not really practical for her to put clothes in to wash without a stool and a bit of extra help.
Put away toys and books – Straightening up her playroom and bookshelf gives my daughter a sense of accomplishment and helps me spend less time doing it when she goes to bed.
Throw away trash – Less of a chore than a task throughout the day to stay clean. When children understand the difference between trash and something we keep, they’re less likely to experiment with throwing things out you (or they) would prefer to keep.
Going potty – If you’re toilet training, make this a “chore” so that there’s an added incentive to complete the task(s) for rewards.
Water plants – If you’ve never tried this, I highly recommend starting with outdoor plants because most of the water will end up on the ground. I purchased a small watering can “toy” from the dollar store as it was the perfect size for my daughter, just to make things a little easier (and wasted less water in one spot).
Other Possible Easy Chores for Toddlers
Help sort laundry – Show your toddler how to sort and match clothes.
Help fold laundry – Take the time to show your toddler how to fold and let them try. (Yes, you’ll likely be re-doing it, but they’ll get a sense of accomplishment from the task).
Put clothes in the hamper – This is so simple … just having your toddler put their own clothes in the hamper will make them smile.
Make the bed – Well, you know you have to help, but you can show them how to pull the covers up and toss the pillow(s) on the bed.
Dry dishes – While you’re washing dishes, or removing them from the dishwasher, hand the unbreakable items to your tot to towel dry.
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When considering toddler chores, don’t choose anything complicated or anything that takes longer than their attention spans can handle.
Give your child a chance to express interest and always be willing to step in if they get frustrated. The point of toddler chores isn’t to make them work so hard that they begin resenting them before they do so naturally.
1. Expose Your Little One to Chores
If you want your child to do chores, it helps not to save them for when he or she goes to bed at night. Allowing your toddler to see you taking care of household duties will expose them to daily life.
Often, little ones gladly offer to help.
2. Show How to Do It First
You can’t expect a toddler to understand the chore just by talking about it alone. Show your toddler the chore and help when necessary.
3. Don’t Expect Perfection
Surely you know that.
Honestly expect that you’re going to be re-doing chores, like re-sorting and re-folding, to your standards for a while.
But, when your 5-year-old can sort, fold, and put away her own laundry, you’re going to be so proud. Not to mention, you’re seriously going to feel great being able to delegate chores and reduce your own workload!!
4. Make it Fun
Turn on Pandora. Sing and dance. Or make a game out of the chores. Basically, don’t stress it and let your kid enjoy the tasks instead of making it feel like a chore.
When it stops being fun or your toddler gets frustrated, let them excuse themselves to do something fun again before the meltdown.
5. Have a Visual Chore Chart
Chore charts like these make toddler chores more rewarding!
6. Offer Praise
Letting your little one know what a good job they did and how much you appreciate their help will further enhance their natural desire to help.