Toddlers and chores aren’t something you’d normally put alongside each other. Seriously, you can barely get your kid to pick up her toys. But it is essential to get them to contribute to household tasks as soon as possible. And it’s not that hard to do. Here are some tips to get you started.
How to make toddlers and chores work
Let them know it’s not a chore, it’s an activity
The reason why most toddlers have an issue with tasks around the house is related to a mindset issue. Toddlers and chores aren’t friends because they see it as a schlep. Most of us grew up with the idea that cooking and cleaning is boring and no-fun things we HAVE to do. When they’re toddlers, kids go through their sensory phase, which makes them more interested in exploring. And household chores are actually serious sensory activities. When you clean, you’re using touch. When you prep food, the sense of smell, touch and taste comes to play. To get your toddler interested in chores, approach chores like they’re activities. Don’t use the word “chore” at all because that means duty, and duty dampens the fun.
If they want to help, let them
A lot of kids these days have a condition we call learned helplessness. If your kids want to tag along while you’re doing chores, don’t point them in the other direction. Sometimes they can’t help, but try to incorporate their willingness to help when and wherever you can. It might take you way longer to get through everything, but it’s an opportunity for learning and bonding at the same time.
Give them rules but start small
Kids will never become pint-sized cleaning robots overnight. But with enough time, a solid routine, and a few simple rules, your kid can develop a healthy attitude toward chores. Start by setting responsibilities like picking up the toys. As soon as he’s mastered the art of responsibility for simple rules, you can add more to the list.
Reward chore completion with even more chores
Before you think we’re mad here, just have a look at the explanation. Sit down and figure out which tasks your kid really loves to do and pinpoint the ones they struggle with. Then use pleasurable chores as incentives for completing the not-so-fun ones. For example, if your kid loves to help with food prep, don’t allow them to help until they’ve put all their toys away. Or they’re only allowed to clean a toilet if they clear the clothes from their bedroom floor. (Yes, some kids do get excited about cleaning toilets with toilet wands for some odd reason.) Now, the chores your kid likes become privileges, which means double the amount of chores get done. It’s really a priceless tactic.