10 chores your toddler can do right now to start helping around the house. Chores help kids develop a strong work ethic, be less entitled, and learn life skills.
I recently wrote about a post about how to raise tidy and helpful kids and recommended that kids should be given the opportunity and expected to do chores early on.
Just in case you’re wondering, you are not a mean parent for making your kids do chores. I know because I’m pretty sure I grew up doing more chores and yard work than anyone else I know, and my parents weren’t mean. In fact, despite all my grumbling at the time, I’m now extremely grateful for all the lessons I learned because I was expected to do chores.
There are SO many benefits to expecting kids to help out and do chores but I’m going to list just a few:
why you should give your kids chores
I’m pretty sure this is the lesson my parents set out to teach me by making me do chores.
I learned gems like “the lazy man works the hardest,” “do it right the first time,” and “dig in and work until the job is done” and saw real world examples behind every single one of those clichés.
Because I was expected to work, and work hard, along side my family I have a great work ethic and know how to take pride in a job well done. This skill has served me well in every aspect of my life; school, the workforce, even being a mom and running a household.
Believe me, this is one you want your kids to learn, so do them a favor and give them chores to do. Who knows… one day they may actually thank you for it.
Kids who are expected to help out are less likely to be entitled. Imagine for a second you have a maid who makes all your food, cleans up all your messes, and even gets you dressed for the day. If that had been all you’d ever known you’d think it was normal and something you should expect.
When our kids are babies they literally depend on us for every little thing for survival. Unless we want them to stay that way, we have to give them opportunities to take care of themselves and take responsibility for their actions, including the messes they make.
Every summer, as a part of the youth curriculum at church, we went to Girls Camp. Three days camping in the mountains, hiking, canoeing, and having spiritual experiences. It was great!
One of the less great parts was taking turns cleaning the bathrooms, but oh well. I knew how to scrub a toilet courtesy of my mother and knew the best thing to do was just dig in and get the job done.
Not everyone had my preparation. I remember one girl in particular who was handed a broom and looked absolutely flummoxed. She had no idea how to use it. I wish I could say my 14-year-old self had been kind, but in all honesty, I’m pretty sure I laughed.
I’m sure she must have been mortified as the rest of us went about cleaning while one of our adult advisors taught her how to use a broom.
Your kids are little now and you can do everything for them, don’t. Someday they will grow up and move away. To take care of themselves they have to know how to cook and do laundry. To be a good roommate and spouse they have to know how to sweep the floor and wipe down the counter tops.
The greatest gift you will ever give your children is teaching them to thrive without you.
Toddler Chore BEst Practices
Before we get to the list of 10 chores your toddler can do I think it’s important to first talk about some best practices.
1. no bribery, rewards or allowance
Despite the fact that my siblings and I did more chores than any of our friends, we never got an allowance.
First let me say, I don’t think giving your kids an allowance is all bad. In fact, I think it can be a great way to teach important life lessons. But I’m not going to dig into that here.
What I am saying is that kids shouldn’t receive an allowance as a reward or in payment of successfully completed chores. They live in the house, they eat the food, they make the messes, they shouldn’t be paid to clean up after themselves. The same goes for bribery and big rewards.
Instead give verbal praise and lots of high fives.
2. adjust your expectations
It will take longer for your child to do their chores then it would take you. Obviously. Adjust your expectations to prevent frustration. Be patient and let them make mistakes, that is part of learning.
Try not to criticize their best effort or redo their work to make it perfect. Nothing will crush their helpful heart faster than feeling like their effort isn’t enough or appreciated.
Instead, use kind words to show them how to do things better or the right way. They will be excited to learn and I bet you’ll be surprised at how quickly they pick it up.
3. keep it simple and fun!
Kids can get overwhelmed easily and can be quick to decide they’re not capable if they get discouraged so keep things simple. Give them chores appropriate for their developmental stage and focus on one chore at a time. Then stay nearby to help them work through the most difficult parts of the task.
Most importantly, make it fun! To a toddler, chores are just another way to play. Capitalize on that to keep them interested in helping and develop a love, yes a love, of work! Put on special clean up music or race to see who can pick up the most toys. Make it a game so its fun for them, and you.
10 chores your toddler can do
Without further ado, here are the 10 chores your toddler can (and probably should) do. My 3-year-old can do all of these and has been since she was 2.
- Pick up toys/books/possessions
- Feed Pets
- Put clothes in washer/transfer to dryer
- Make their bed
- Fold dish towels and washcloths
- Retrieve things (“please get mommy…”)
- Throw things away
- Clean up spills and messes
- Set the table
Simply adapt each task to your toddler’s level and watch them blossom into little helpers and grow into responsible, hard-working, thriving adults.
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