9 Age Appropriate Chores for Toddlers
As a parent, one of your most important jobs is to instill a sense of responsibility and accountability in your child. One of the best and most effective ways of doing that is to institute a policy of expecting him to complete chores from an early age. While a toddler probably won’t be capable of any heavy-duty cleaning or complex tasks at such a young age, he is capable of learning about expectations and helping to take care of the area around him. These nine chores are among those that you can add to your toddler’s schedule to impart an understanding of responsibility as a concept.
- Picking Up Toys – Kids may not like the idea of picking up their toys and books after a long day of playing, but it will instill the habit of keeping things tidy and will also help him learn about the importance of taking care of his things. It may be necessary to give direction or help a very young toddler remember where everything goes, but he should be able to handle the basics of straightening up after himself.
- Throwing Things Away – Teaching your child to throw things away when he’s directed helps to solidify the concept of “everything in its place.” If you maintain several recycling bins, however, you should be prepared to direct him to the right one. If they’re color-coded, this can also be an exercise in color recognition.
- Putting Clothes in a Hamper – Provided that the hamper you expect him to use is low enough for your child to comfortably reach over the side of, a toddler is capable of collecting his dirty clothes and putting them into a hamper or basket.
- Helping to Care for Pets – One of the best ways to teach kids about responsibility is to allow them to assist in the care of another living thing. Helping your child to measure the right amount of dog or cat food, and to add water to the bowl with a small pitcher, can help to refine his grasping and pouring skills while also teaching him the importance of caring for his pets.
- Cleaning Up Spills and Crumbs – Spills, crumbs and messes are par for the course when there’s a toddler in the house. Though there’s a good chance that he’ll miss a few spots and probably leave the floors sticky, wiping them up is a great way for your toddler to learn that he’s responsible for cleaning up his own messes. To avoid making him feel inadequate, you may want to wait to finish the job until he’s occupied elsewhere.
- Helping to Set the Table – It probably isn’t a good idea to trust the fine china to the motor skills of a toddler, but he can help to place unbreakable plastic items and silverware on the table in preparation for family meals. Doing so not only establishes his role in the family meal ritual, but also makes him responsible for a specific, routine task.
- Making the Bed – Tucking in sheets and smoothing out all of the wrinkles isn’t realistic, but your toddler can straighten the blankets on his bed and pull them up with the help of a grown-up, and doing so every morning helps him to understand from an early age that it’s part of the daily routine.
- Sweeping – Those kid-sized brooms are not only adorable, they’re also useful. A toddler is more likely to spread crumbs and dirt than he is to actually sweep it up, but going through the motions alongside you helps him to feel proud of himself for helping and can help him begin the work of mastering the motions by improving his coordination a bit.
- Put His Clothes Away – A toddler will naturally be incapable of putting his clothes on hangers or reaching a closet rod to hang them up, but he can put his socks and other items in drawers that are low enough for him to reach. It is wise to open the drawers for him and to close them when he’s finished, however, to avoid the possibility of pinched fingers in the process.
It’s important to remember that a very young child may not be able to complete his chores perfectly. During the toddler years, doing chores is an exercise in learning about responsibility and housework, rather than perfecting technique. Rather than scolding a little one for missing spots, keep in mind that he’s still absorbing the concept of responsibility, even if his developing motor skills don’t allow him to leave surfaces spotless or beds perfectly made.