10 Things Your Toddler Can Do to Help Around the House

By Marcia Hall

Parents may have great intentions of getting their children involved in chores around the house, but life can frequently get in the way of even the best of intentions.  Here are a few simple things you can quickly teach your children to do around the house to foster their involvement.

  1. Set the table. Getting the plates, cups and silverware out is a great way to not only get your child to help out around the house, but also to be invested in family meals at an early age.  You can utilize one of the lower cabinets in your kitchen for the plates and cups that you use for normal everyday meals so that your child will be able to have easy access to them at mealtime.
  2. Clear the table. Taking the dirty dishes to the sink area is a very simple task, and one that is important to get your child in the habit of doing.  As he gets used to this, you can teach him how to scrape off all the leftover food into the trash before placing it next to the sink.
  3.  Wipe off the counters and table. Wiping the counters is typically a favorite of a child’s first “jobs” because it is simple and fun.  For some reason, kids love the idea of cleaning off the gunk and making the table shiny – almost as much parents like to have clean tables and counters.
  4. Put clothes in the washing machine. Laundry time is often a chore for moms and dads.  You can help your child begin to learn to do her own laundry by getting her to help out early on.  It should be very simple to have your child put the clothes in the washing machine if, as you sort them, you put the first load on the floor next to the washing machine.  If you have a top loading machine that she cannot reach, you can get a small stool for her to stand on, but if you have a front loading machine it is that much easier.
  5. Sort socks. This is a great way to help your child develop matching skills, which is a very important beginning math skill to acquire.  Lay all the socks out on the floor and let him find the “pairs.” You may need to help with some of the socks that look “similar,” but if corrected in a gentle way he will pick up on this quickly.  You can even encourage him to look for the socks with holes in them.
  6. Feed the pets. If you child gets a great amount of joy from her pets, she should learn from an early age that the pets need to have their needs met.  The most basic of these needs is food and water.  Keep your pet food in an accessible place to make it easier for your child to feed the pet.  To ensure the animal gets the right amount, keep a serving cup that holds just the right amount near the food.  You can develop a chart that your child can check off when the animal is fed to help her understand that the animal needs to be given food at certain times during the day.
  7. Put his toys away. This should be a no brainer, but it is often far easier to pick up a child’s toys at the end of the day than to coax him to do it.  However, it is worth the trouble to teach the valuable life lesson that if our things are important to us, we need to take care of them.
  8. Take garbage out of the car. It is so much easier to keep a car clean when it is child-free because you simply take everything into the house at the end of a car ride.  But add children to the mix, and sometimes multiple children, along with all their garbage, toys, backpacks, and who knows what else and you will have a much harder time keeping the car clean.  Building the habit of keeping the car clean with children is not easy, but it can be done.  Try keeping a few small canvas shopping bags in the car.  Then every time you have a lot of stuff to bring in you can have your child put it all in the canvas bag and carry it in herself.
  9. Get the mail. Kids love mail, even if it is not all for them. With younger kids you can do this task together.  To ensure that your important mail always gets to you, have a designated spot that your child can reach and teach him to place the mail there.
  10. Pull weeds. Finding tasks for your toddler to do in the yard can be hard, but pulling weeds is one that little hands are capable of doing.  If you get him a pair of small gardening gloves to protect his hands and teach him what the weeds look like, you will find that pulling weeds may be one of his favorite things to do with mom or dad outside.

Your child’s mastery of each task will come over time. While it can be tempting to focus on perfect execution, instead focus on the important lessons you’re instilling in your child as you encourage him to take an active role in helping out around the house.

4 Reasons to Let Your Toddler Help Around the House

By Marcia Hall

You child will naturally want to help you do things around the house.  At times, this insistence can be seen as a nuisance because it is generally easier and quicker to do the job by yourself than to have little, clumsy hands help.  However, there are a lot of reasons we should encourage children to pitch in.

It builds independence

Encouraging your child to do things on her own will promote a positive sense of self which will in turn help your child to gain her own independence.  This is a very good thing; even if at times you wish that she did not have so much independence.

Among the many jobs parents have, one is to help create a person who will be able to survive on her own.  This movement toward independence starts at a very young age.  As soon as a child is able to understand how to get her body to do what she wants it to she will begin to crawl and walk away from you, feed herself, and play on her own.  This is also a great time to begin teaching her to clean her own things up.  She will need lots of help and encouragement to learn this task, but constantly encouraging her will help it become commonplace for her to do small tasks.

It creates connection

Just like any new habit you help your child develop, while you are teaching her to help around the house you will get to spend time with her.  This naturally creates a connection between you and your child.  She wants nothing more than to be near you doing what you are doing.

Create that connection by using the phrase “Let’s clean up your toys!”  When it’s said with excitement in your voice your child will naturally want to do it too.  But she will also be drawn to the task just because you are cleaning with her.

After a while that “good” feeling she gets when cleaning the toys with you will be transferred to the act itself.  She will then get a “good” feeling cleaning up the toys, even if you don’t always help her do it.  To insure this “good” feeling continues, be sure to continue to clean up with her from time to time.

It develops a great work ethic

You want your child to grow up and have a job that he loves and does to the best of his ability.  That is what it means to have a good work ethic.  School is one of the first places we see the level of work ethic our child has.  Does he do the bare minimum of what is expected in his class, or does he work hard to learn and improve his skills.  There is no better way to teach your child to work hard and always try than having him help around the house.

In order to help your child build this strong work ethic you need to ask him to participate in household chores from a very early age, explaining to him that everyone in the family works together to keep the house beautiful and safe.  By giving your child, even when he’s a toddler, certain responsibilities, helping him learn to do those jobs on his own, and then encouraging him when he’s done a job well, you will help him develop a great sense of satisfaction in the job he did, even when it is very hard to do.

It develops positive self-esteem

Nothing builds a better work ethic than helping your child feel the satisfaction of doing a job to the best of her ability.  To do this you will want to avoid harshly correcting your child for chores that are done improperly, especially at first.  Remember that she is still learning, and that almost no one does everything right the first time.  If you criticize the job even a little bit when it is not perfect you will find that it is very difficult to get him to do that task again.

Praise the fact that your child is trying hard.  Give him a chance to see and correct the error himself.  “You worked so hard to wipe off that table!  Mommy sometimes misses spots too.  Do you see any spots that did not get wiped?”

If you feel the need to go back and finish or fix the chore, it is important to do so later and not in front of your child.  There is nothing more discouraging than having a person fix the mistake you have made.

Taking the time to encourage your children to help out around the house does more than just keep the home tidy, it instills lifelong lessons that will help him to develop into a responsible and caring adult.