This incident happened when my daughter was a toddler. While I was playing with her, I asked her to put a toy in her cupboard. Without a second bidding, she took the toy and put it in her toy cupboard. The next time, as soon as she finished her meal, I asked her to put her plate in the kitchen, and she did. She thought it was a game. She started enjoying it so much that she hardly let us finish our meals, as she wanted to put our plates in the kitchen sink.
This taught me something very useful: What’s chore for us, adults, is fun for kids.
Since that day, I started including my toddler in small household chores. She enjoys doing them, while I get some precious minutes to myself.
Importance of teaching household chores
- Household chores teach responsibility to kids. They realize they are equal partners at home and all need to put in their share of work. That’s how a household runs smoothly and efficiently.
- They learn functional life skills which come in handy when they grow up and live on their own.
- They develop self discipline as they know certain chores are to be done at a certain time by them.
This is how a toddler can help parents at home:
Keeping the house clean
One thing that Mommyhood has taught me is that toys, crayons and books have feet. And then they will come out at the most unsuspecting places and at the most inopportune moments. And no they don’t go back as they come; you have to show them their place. After a long day, picking up and cleaning the house can be real jerks. Teach your kid to clean up after her.
Ask her to pick up bits of paper, toys, crayons, books from the floor. Usually, I start singing this song “clean up, clean up, everybody do yourself” whenever there is little clean up to do. She loves this song from Barney and within moments she joins me in the cleaning spree.
She must pick up her shoes and other belongings and put them in their rightful place. She can also help in cleaning the furniture. Just place a dusting cloth in her hand. An older child can sweep and mop the floor too.
A preschooler can take on more household chores than a toddler. These are the household chore list for a preschooler:
Clothes in a house usually belong to 3 places: cupboard, laundry basket and drying line. So if you see them out of place, teach your child to:
- Put soiled clothes into the laundry basket.
- Fill the washing machine with dirty clothes.
- Help in hanging the clothes on the drying line.
Prepare the next day’s school clothes, if he is old enough to do it. Fold the clothes and put them in the cupboard.
Helping in the kitchen:
Most kids are happy playing with the kitchen utensils while their mothers are cooking in the kitchen. Exploit this opportunity.
Ask your kid to wash vegetables and fruits, shell peas, apply butter on bread and make sandwiches.
Being useful at meal times:
A preschooler can easily place table mats and arrange plates, forks and spoons. She can also fetch water and food in small quantities and if they are not hot.
Watering the plants:
Watering the plants can be one of the daily household chores for your preschooler. It’s a fun activity too.
Taking care of personal items:
A preschooler should learn to take responsibility and accountability of her own belongings. Taking care of the toys, dolls and games, clothes, accessories and stationery is all a part of it.
Want to know how to make your preschool do household chores happily?
- Assign age appropriate tasks. Giving them tasks as per their age and capability will help them accomplish those tasks. And this sense of accomplishment will motivate them to help more in the future.
- Put on some music, and encourage them to have fun while taking on a household chore. A household chore is not a chore when there is fun involved.
- Show them how to do the task yourself first.
- Guide and encourage, but step in to help only when needed.
- Appreciate them for their effort. Making an effort is more important than accomplishment.
- If you need to re-do the chore, do it when the child is not around. It creates an impression that their work is not ‘good enough’ or valued, and it might make them less likely to help in the future.
- If a child is not interested in helping, leave him alone. Don’t push, force or shame him. May be he is not in the mood. Seriously, you can’t make toddlers and preschoolers do things against their wish. This I have learnt the hard way.
Things to keep in mind when you make your toddler or preschooler do household chores:
- Don’t thank when they help you. It will make them feel as if they obliged you. They need to understand that doing household chores is their responsibility too.
- Supervise a small child. You wouldn’t want all those shelled peas inside her tummy or rolling under the difficult-to-reach-out-to places of refrigerators, cupboards etc.
- Make sure, a child never comes in contact with knife, fork or gas while working in the kitchen.
- Be prepared that the chore won’t be completed as you’d wanted to. And you might have to do it yourself later. But, don’t let that deter you from assigning more tasks to your child. He will learn in time. Just have some patience. Remember your child is learning important life skills.
Do you let your child help you with household chores? Any tip or trick that you are particularly proud of (or not) using? 😉