By Mariel Uyquiengco
Making young children help with household work allows them to acquire important life skills. By participating in age-appropriate chores, kids as young as two to three get a head start in organizational skills, responsibility, and self-motivation.
A summary of research done by professor Marty Rossman of the University of Minnesota states that “the best predictor of young adults’ success in their mid-20s was that they participated in household tasks when they were three or four.”
Toddlers are so cute and it’s easy to just let them play the whole day. However, we are doing them a disservice by not teaching them how to help around the house. Though they are small, toddlers age 2 to 3 can already perform some tasks with proper guidance.
Here are some age-appropriate chores for your little one.
- Pack away books and toys
Cleaning up after reading or playing is a good habit to have. Make it a rule to pack away one toy before getting another one from the shelf. This will lessen the chances of having a big, messy pile once your child learns to do it consistently.
To make it easy for your child to put things away, make sure that he knows where to put specific things. You can do this by putting pictures on the shelves or baskets. Alternatively, you can just assign one or two boxes for toys and one shelf space for books.
2. Put his dirty clothes in the laundry basket
Girl or boy, kids should learn how to pick up after themselves. Ask your child to put his clothes away by himself in the hamper before you give him a bath.
Since little ones like to play, you can have a little “basketball game” after his clothes are off. Show him how to crumple his shirt into a ball and then ask him to shoot it into the waiting basket.
3. Help set the table
Start him young and make him assist you when you’re setting the table. Young kids jump at the chance to put spoons, forks, and table napkins on the table.
Setting the table also helps with math skills, as you ask your child to count out plates, utensils, and glasses. Some parents use unbreakable dishes and put them in lower shelves to make it easy for their kids to help during meal times.
4. Help make the bed
Teach your child to start the day right by asking him to help you make the bed. Though he will not be able to do it on his own for several years more, asking him to help make the bed makes him aware that he has to do it everyday.
Start by asking him to plump up the pillows and to put them at the head of the bed. Next, let him hold two ends of the blanket as you spread it.
5. Feed the pet
Caring for pets teaches young kids empathy and responsibility. If you have a small pet such as a fish or a cat, let your child feed it. Do it together with him at first, until it becomes a habit. Feeding the pet can be part of your child’s routine.
Having a pet can also be an opportunity to learn more about the animal. Read books about your pet and how to take care of it. It’s a science lesson everyday!
6. Dust easy-to-reach areas
Who says toddlers can’t help in dusting? Little kids love to have small-sized versions of cleaning materials. Assign him a spot to dust on his own and go do your own thing in another area.
Make sure to check what he has done and compliment his efforts to help. Remember, at this stage, it’s about introducing the idea of chores. Perfection will come with consistency.
7. Put away shoes
Shoes can pile up on doorways. Ask your child to be responsible of his own footwear. If he doesn’t have his own shoe rack or cabinet yet, now is the time to get one. Having his own space makes it easy for a child to be responsible for his own things.
Assign a box or a space for each of your child’s slippers, boots, sandals, and shoes. Pictures on boxes or cubbyholes are helpful.
8. Wipe spilled milk
Kids must learn how to clean up after themselves. When your child spills his milk, or any other liquid, don’t go rushing to wipe it for him. Hand him a rug and ask him to try to do it himself. He will be more than happy to oblige.
9. Put socks and underwear in the drawer
Putting away your own clothes is something that everyone needs to learn to do. Start your child with socks and underwear, which do not have to be his!
While you are putting clothes away in the closet, give your child the socks to put (or shoot) into a drawer. He’ll think it’s a game, but you get a little hand and he gets to learn.
10. Put away his plate and utensils
Don’t train your child to just walk away from the dining table without lifting a finger! Ask him to carefully put away his plate and utensils. Of course, just do this if he has a plastic dish that won’t break.
Most probably, your child won’t be able to reach the sink yet. So, just ask him to put it on the counter or a table near the kitchen sink.
Chores are important for children to learn in order to learn virtues and values that will help them in adulthood. Start your child young, and see him grow up into a person who can take care of himself.
Mariel Uyquiengco hopes to inspire parents to be their children’s first and best teacher. She does this through her blog and online children’s book shop www.thelearningbasket.com and by giving parenting seminars about early childhood development, preschool homeschool, and raising children to be readers.