When can my toddler start doing chores, and what kinds are appropriate?

When can my toddler start doing chores, and what kinds are appropriate?

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He can start anytime, depending on the task.

Your toddler may not seem like the most efficient helper, but it's important to give him some responsibilities. He'll learn what it's like to be part of a team — in this case, family — that relies on and values his contributions. He'll also establish good habits that will benefit him when he's older. Besides, toddlers love to help!

Finding the right job for your toddler takes good judgment. If you give him too much to do, he'll feel overwhelmed and will be less successful. Give him too little, and the lessons in responsibility and self-reliance are lost on him. Here are some pointers:

* Start with simple jobs. Tailor his first chores so that they're easy for him, then add on as he gets better at helping you. For instance, start by asking him to put bread in the bread basket for dinner, or to toss all of his stuffed animals into his toy bin.

* Pick age-appropriate tasks. At this age, he doesn't have the cognitive ability to tackle a large project, so save jobs such as cleaning his room (too daunting) or folding laundry (too tricky) for when he's older. If your toddler's under 2, he may be able to handle only small assignments, such as stacking his board books. When he's closer to 3, he'll be able to set forks and spoons on the dinner table or water potted plants.

* Show, don't tell. At this age, it's best if you demonstrate how to perform a task rather than just describe it. This way your toddler will better understand what's expected of him. Your child will be able to manage a job better if there aren't too many steps to it — dusting, for example, means swiping a rag over a surface, a fairly simple concept. Sorting socks is another good chore at this age.

* Make helping fun. From his perspective, one of the best things about doing chores is that he gets to spend more time with you. You may want to stay within chatting distance so you can talk while you work. Or, if you're putting away the clean laundry, put on one of his favorite CDs and dance your way to the dresser.

* Establish a routine. If chores are done at the same time every day, your toddler is more apt to get in the habit of doing them. For example, he can put his books away at the end of the day or line up his toy cars before lunch.

* Pour on the praise. We all like to know when we're doing a job well. A simple "thank you" will usually do the trick, or, if he's been particularly great, you could reward him with an extra half-hour at his favorite playground or a new set of crayons. You can also point out just how valuable his contribution is. For example, you can say, "Now that you've sorted the laundry into two colors, it'll be quicker for me to load it into the machine."

* Expect imperfection. There will be days when he won't feel like doing his assigned job, or when he'll take on his assigned tasks haphazardly. Instead of nagging or getting angry, remind him of his job calmly and pleasantly ("After you read those books, you have to put all of them back on the shelf, right?"). If you show your frustration or disappointment, it could bring on a tantrum, and then no work will be done.

* Try not to micro-manage. Even with good instructions, your toddler will likely tackle chores his own way. Resist the urge to correct him — unless, of course, he's about to do something dangerous. If you want to make a suggestion about his technique, try to do it nicely. You can say, "Thank you for putting your dishes in the dishwasher. You're such a great helper. I like to put my cup in very slowly, so that I don't drop it. Like this, see?"

* Be willing to fly solo. If your toddler bails on his task completely, don't sweat it, just take over. At this age, the best you're going to get is cooperation when he feels like it. That doesn't mean you can't set a good example. Show him that you really do believe chores can be fun. Pick up the books in front of him, saying, "Hmm, I guess I'll have to pick them up myself. I like to tidy up — look how nicely the books stack on the shelf."

Watch the video: Age Appropriate Chores for Children (May 2022).

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