At this age it will be more work for you to have them help, but it’s a good lesson all the same (and they will actually want to help – which is great!) Toddlers can put their clothes in the hamper when they’re dirty, bring their dishes to the sink, make sure their trash gets into the bucket. My daughter always loved putting away clothes and “washing” the dishes (with tepid water, lol!)
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Putting away toys is a great start. You have to do it anyway so you might as do it when they’re there and ‘helping’ (as long as they don’t tip everything out again.) My daughter is definitely more keen on ‘helping’ that the 3 boys. She ‘peeled’ the carrots for dinner last week (not really but even pretending is a beginning.)
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Chores are an important way for kids to learn how to take responsibility for themselves and to help out the family. Teaching kids to clean up after themselves is one of the easiest ways to start. My simplest piece of advice to get kids to clean up is to DESCRIBE the problem and sit back and watch while they solve it! For example, if there’s a bunch of unused toys strewn all over the living room floor and it’s getting close to bedtime, you could say something like, “It’s getting close to bedtime, and I see trucks all over the floor.” If nothing happens, you could add, “If the toys are left out, someone might step on them and hurt themselves.” If both of those fail, offer to “help” your child clean up!
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When you have a toddler and a new baby, the best way to get your toddler to cooperate and enjoy being a big sibling is, to get them involved with caring for baby. I have always had a toddler and a baby in the past six years and what helped me was to give them some powers. Let them fetch diapers, pick tissues, get the spoon and towel, etc. The goal is to encourage them, keep them busy and out of the way. If your toddler is the only baby of the house, then still, treat them as little grown ups. We let ours arrange shoes in the cabinet, help sort groceries and even shop for themselves sometimes.
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My 2 year olds love to help, and I love teaching them to be helpers. At this age, they do things that are fun for them and I don’t force the issue if they are in the mood to play instead. My 2 year olds help unload the dishwasher (handing me things), set the table (putting their placemats and cups on the table), and feed the pets (they dump the food in while I hold the bowl). They also love to sweep! I bought them little brush and dustpan sets and they help sweep crumbs off the floor after meals.
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Chores for young children, ages 1 to 3, are more about helping Mommy while Mommy works on the chores. But letting the child help allows the child to develop the skills to do these chores independently. It may slow Mommy down to have the “help”, but it’s worth it. Like most of parenting, childhood chores build on each other until the skills are mastered, and the child can complete the chore alone.
Chores for 1 year olds: taking the laundry out of the dryer, picking up her toys, taking things to other places, and setting the table.
Chores for 2 year olds: everything on the 1 year old list plus taking diapers, or other trash, to the trash can, picking up dirty clothes and placing them in the hamper, picking up toys and shoes, and getting dressed.
Chores for 3 year olds include everything on the other two lists plus rinsing the dishes, taking out the trash, picking up the front room, and making her bed.
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Toddlers are very interested in helping in the kitchen. I ask my toddler to assist in chores by helping me pick out the vegetables from the basket, pull out a bowl or plate, or put his washed dishes back in place. It’s a good idea to make a small space in the kitchen where they can ‘help’ safely.
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I actually gave my son responsibilities from the get go. As soon as he showed interest in a particular chore or task, I started teaching and instructing on how it should be done. He has his own dust mitt, broom, dust pan, etc — all child-sized. The highlights of chore time? Helping scrub the toilet bowl and scoop the cat litter (he wears a glove for the latter). I allowed him to help with chores as was appropriate for his level of comprehension. He knows how to put on his own coat, gloves, and the like — because I took the time to talk him through how to do it rather than getting frustrated and doing it for him. As I tell my son — “I have a lot more practice at this than you, so it doesn’t take me as long. The more you practice, the quicker you’ll get!”
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