Are you confused reading the title? Wondering how can a little cute toddler do take responsibilities? Aren’t those for adults?
Well, don’t we all wish people around us were responsible and sensible. How beautiful the world would be? Imagine a household with family members equally involved in daily life chores. Another where only one person (irrespective of gender) takes care of daily needs. No guess on where peace resided.
We can always start early and raise the next responsible generation. Our almost 2 years old, Penguin is always helpful and have certain responsibilities in our household. As we clean, eat or play he keeps imitating us. Toddler always find good satisfaction with his “Help deliverables”. We feel he has already mastered few verbal, cognitive, fine motor and gross motor skills to do household tasks.
Imagine 5 years old unable to wear own shoes and depending on others. Or a 10-year-old unable keep his room tidy. Or grown up working adult unable to fix his own breakfast.
Why encourage toddlers with chores?
Toddler would learn few good skills in exchange of their chores responsibility. They do learn a life-skill useful in their adult life. Once you learn how to peel an orange you just cannot forget it. Right? Kids would have a boost in their self-esteem. The twinkle in their eyes as they complete a task is hard to miss. Kids are smart enough to realize their charge with positive words. A sense of responsibility is achieved and it do work with them. Moreover, allowing toddlers to participate in daily household chores teaches them independence and organization. Not to forget, toddlers are developing their vocabulary and with chores they do learn to communicate and interact effectively.
Meanwhile the struggle to teach them something is real. The energetic bundles just won’t sit. But would perfectly copy your actions. Parents, do keep your coffee ready. Keep calm. Have patience to teach. Kids would learn eventually. Another big entity is expectation, don’t expect perfection. Kids would grow with time and practice.
How to involve toddlers?
- Play “Do as I do”
Toddlers observe a lot. They watch out every action of yours and try to replicate it. They walk the way you walk in heels. Try putting lipstick. Watch dads shaving and copy them. So, instead of saying them “Do as I say” or “Do like this” try showing them how to do. And they would gladly learn from you. Make a song of it if you like.
- Encourage participation
When a toddler is coming in your way of work as you sweep the floor or fold laundry ask them to help you out. They feel a major boost if adults ask them for help. No kidding.
- Task assignment
Generally, 2-year olds do understand 2-word commands. “Give me the bottle and bring your bowl”. They can run (rarely walk) with coordination. Their attention span is rising, at least for few minutes. So, assign them small tasks and let them do it their way. At times, they would finish it and ask for more. On other days they would give you a royal ignore and return later to it.
- Appreciate kid’s efforts
Like us adults, kids do seek for appreciation. Appreciate their efforts with words, claps and hugs. Let them know how helpful they were. How much you value their contribution? It is a good chance to teach 3 golden words of Thank you-Please-Sorry. You say and they follow like always. A win-win situation.
- Offer help only when kid can’t proceed with job or ask
If you have allotted a task to toddler, let them do it. They would fumble a lot in the beginning, keep patience. If we parent or caregivers jump in to help then they can’t learn and it hurts their self-esteem too. Let the child use his cognitive skills, imagination and motor skill to complete a task.
- Consistency is the key
No brainer in this. If one does not practice they cannot learn. Ask kids to do same duty over time and again. They would understand the purpose and end-result.
13 things 2 years old can do.
- Help in making bed (Pass the pillows and kick sheets off)
A clean bed kicks on our day. Once we are done with our morning rituals. Penguin knows his first job in the morning. Big pat on my shoulder. So, our almost 2-year old helps me to pass pillows from bed and carry it to other room or desired place. Next, he helps to pull of the sheets and (let me say) arrange back. Also, hold ends of blankets/sheets to fold.
- Pull/ Push his booster chair to spot before and after meals
Our booster chair keeps moving in the house. It doesn’t have a fixed spot. Poor chap! So, it’s job of our toddler to pull or push his booster chair next to dinning table and T.V. Yes, we do allow sane-screen. More on that latter. Promise! Ask your toddler if you need to move any lightweight item and enjoy one breathe.
- Fill water bottles
In many Indian household it is the practise to store water in bottles and jugs. We are no different. So, Penguin, our toddler, has to search for empty water bottles around house and collect them in kitchen. Later, I rely on him to unscrew bottle caps and pass to refill. At times, he insists to refill on his own and I allow under my supervision.
- Puts toys and books back in shelf after play
After on eventful play at home, toys and books are sprayed across couch, under the tables and few unthinkable places. Feel free to ask your toddler to help you in keeping them back in place. With Penguin I help him is locating where the toys/books are scattered. It’s his work to go around the house and collect all in desired bins or shelves. After, a day work searching for pieces of bloks is exhausting. Ask for help.
- Clean their own toys
Idea is the one who play with toys, should maintain them too. Moreover, water is always entertaining for kids. Under your supervision give them soapy water and rag cloth. They would enjoy it as fun play. It can also be a sensory activity. Plan out a game and involve kids. This one can be twisted in future with dishes. Smart move!
- Keep shoes in place after outdoors.
Many Asian home keep their indoor and outdoor separate. We keep our shoes inside a designated cabinet as a habit. This is one of the jobs that I never insisted for second time. He watched us do and followed on. At times, if we forget or ignore footwears outside cabinet, he ensures all the in.
- Push laundry bin to dry area. Pass clothes. Keep in place.
Since Penguin started walking I used to have him hold the bucket filled with washed clothes and push till dry area. Undeniably, I used to pull it and he used to practise walking. With time, he grew stronger and started pushing with minimal help. These days, I don’t have to help or ask. Once washing is done, he helps me unloading laundry and push it till dry area. Further, pass me clean clothes to hang-dry and pegs too. Later, he insists on collecting clean now dried clothes to bed. We fold laundry there. Continuing the earlier process, he passes me dried clothes one-by-one to fold and segregate. I ask him to pass folded dresses as we keep them in cupboards. Encourage toddler’s involvement in laundry chores.
- Putting soiled outfits in bin
Every time we are back from outdoors, from play or walk or shopping. After putting shoes in place, he undresses himself with little help and put soiled ones in bin. Through out the day, we ask him to put soiled kitchen towel or socks in bin and delightedly he takes charge.
- Peel boiled eggs, oranges, boiled potatoes
Kitchen utensils are favourites of kids. Infants love banging spoons and plates. Penguin love my kitchen more than me, like literally. He keeps raiding my kitchen utensils for his play. Even as I cook or chop veggies, he offers to help. So, I take in him in few easy kitchen jobs like peeling. Though he is not a pro yet but he like to participate. Recently he started whisking eggs and batter.
- Wipe up spills
Toddlers love to copy you, allow them to take care of water spills and food pieces dropped. I give Penguin a cloth kitchen towel if he spills any milk, water, juices or soup. Though it is not done perfectly like us, he does a fair job. He would learn more with time. He is quite a cleanliness freak and remembers to collect fallen food bits from booster chairs and ground and put it in bin/sink.
We do weekly dusting and monthly deep cleaning. So, whenever I have a rag or brush to dust Penguin demands one. Most things are cleaned twice as he re-does my work.
- Bring in mail/courier
When ever the doorbell rings, I just open the lock. Toddler prefers to answer the door and meet the caller. Every mail/ courier is received by him. No further say on who unboxes or opens the mails, except of documents.
- Place veggies and fruits in place after veggies shopping
My husband, Mr. Fabulous is a shopaholic when it comes to Sunday vegetable market. He loads our fridge every single time. We also do online grocery shopping based on time and need. So, to do segregation and keeping veggies in place need our ever-helpful toddler, Penguin. It becomes a learn and play for him as he do sorting, count and pass veggies from door dropped bags to kitchen.
Keeping toddlers engaged in chores help me sharing house hold work. If not by mountain at least by a mole. Also, he is learning that household chores are not sectioned by gender. Both of us do every work together and he observe that. Another step to co-parenting and gender-neutral parenting.
Do share your views and thoughts about involving young toddlers in daily chores as responsibilities.
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