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One of the things we want to teach our kids is to look after their responsibilities.  So when is the right time to start teaching these things to a toddler?  I think the earlier the better – as we start to involve a toddler in the looking after the things around the house we are establish a habit – a habit we will be thankful of in years to come!  As soon as they can walk and understand instructions we can let them do certain chores (probably around 16months or so).

Some little chores that toddlers can do:

  • Pick up toys.  This is easier if there is a toybox close by for them to dump into.  If they have to walk too far between picking up and dumping they tend to be distracted.  To start training you will need to be there pointing out every toy; with a happy voice, lots of encouragement and clapping they’ll feel like it is a game.
  • Setting or clearing the table.  I remember Josh being so little he would throw the cup into the sink as it was the only way he could reach!  Using plastics certainly help!!
  • Water potplants – whether they pour a cup of water onto each plant, or whether you use a watering can a toddler will be truly doing something helpful here.
  • Dusting and wiping down surfaces.  Put a sock on their hands and show them where to dust!  What fun!!  They also like to take a wet cloth and wipe down benches, cupboard doors or windows.

Some notes to parents:

  • Don’t expect perfection – we need to remember that they are toddlers!  They are in training and therefore we need to expect them to get better little by little.  Be gracious!
  • Don’t expect speed – once again they are little!  They get distracted!  But we can, by working alongside of them, encourage them to keep on track.
  • Don’t leave them on their own – they will be distracted for sure!  Most things we ask a toddler to do is done better if we maintain visual contact!  This helps us encourage them along the way, praise them for when they do well and direct them when they get distracted.
  • Do expect to finish the job.  Don’t let them give up and don’t take over.
  • Do praise – praise for their helpfulness, orderliness and happy heart!

Giving a few chores for a toddler to do is not only developing skills in order for them to be responsible it is also developing an attitude that they are a part of the family.  One other reminder is that we need to grow their chores, grow our expectations as our child grows.  A 3-year old can do more than an 18month old, and a 5-year old can do a lot more than a 3-year old.  So continually expand your child’s repertoire of chores – aiming for the day when they will be able to look after themselves, look after a house, and look after other people.

You can see the rest of my Living with a Toddler for 31 days series here.

Or find more 31 day series here.

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