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27 Developmentally Appropriate Chores for Your Toddler

toddler helper

Unfortunately, kids don’t grow up knowing how to do chores without any direction or insistence from their parents. They require guidance and a routine to learn how to effectively help around the house and keep things clean and organized.

This guide is for any parents struggling to get started on the path to chores with their toddler. Knowing the importance of beginning tasks early, selecting developmentally appropriate tasks and using the best strategies will increase the chances of successfully making chores a regular part of their routine.

Importance of Chores for Toddlers

Toddlers have a natural desire to please their parents and mimic what they see. This is the easiest stage to get kids involved in chores. The foundational skills they learn now will carry into the rest of their lives, preparing them to care for themselves, a home and eventually a family of their own.

Completing chores together also helps strengthen familial bonds, creating a team that works together toward a common goal. Kids of any age enjoy the independence and responsibility of being part of a team.

Developmentally Appropriate Chores for Toddlers

The most important part about choosing chores for toddlers is to ensure they’re developmentally appropriate. It’s essential to consider their age and current abilities since every child advances differently. This list can serve as a jumping-off point.

Helping at Mealtime

Mealtime prep and execution shouldn’t fall solely on one or both parents. Toddlers are more than capable of pitching in with small yet helpful tasks like:

  1. Taking their plastic plate to the table.

  2. Wiping up their mess at the table with a damp cloth.

  3. Preparing certain foods, like peeling their own banana or opening an applesauce pouch.

  4. Taking their plate to the sink or dishwasher when they finish eating.

  5. Using wet and dry rags to wipe up any spills from the floor.

  6. Choosing meals for the week.

  7. Helping grocery shop, like picking good produce.

Picking Up After Themselves

Teaching children to pick up their own messes from a young age will make them much more likely to do so down the road. At the toddler stage, most kids are capable of:

  1. Putting toys away one at a time into easily understandable storage.

  2. Putting a book away after looking at it.

  3. Taking care of their personal care items, like a brush, when they’re finished with them.

Pet Care

Households with pets present another excellent learning opportunity for young kids. Many pet care tasks are developmentally appropriate for toddlers to complete with assistance from an adult, such as:

  1. Adding food and water to the pet’s dishes.

  2. Going on a walk.

  3. Hooking up the harness, which is particularly great practice for fine motor skills.

  4. Brushing a dog’s fur.

  5. Playing fetch.

Personal Care

While not everyone will consider these chores, that’s certainly how they’ll feel to a toddler and other young kids. Learning personal care skills prepares children for the future and takes a load off their parents. Toddlers are capable of helping with tasks like:

  1. Brushing their teeth for 30 seconds before a parent takes over.

  2. Combing snarls out of their hair.

  3. Looking through their clothes and picking an outfit for the day.

  4. Putting on slip-on style shoes.

  5. Getting dressed with minor assistance.

  6. Helping scrub in the tub.

General House Maintenance

General house maintenance encompasses the tasks most people think of when listing off chores. While these may be some of the most challenging options for toddlers to grasp, some creative thought will turn up a decent assortment of possibilities, such as:

  1. Dusting with a dry cloth or sock on their hand.

  2. Taking items to the room they belong, with some prompting.

  3. Helping move clothing from the washer to the dryer and the dryer to the basket.

  4. Cleaning up a parent’s sweeping pile with a dustpan and brush.

  5. Wiping the table or other surfaces with a non-toxic cleaning product like vinegar and water.

  6. Watering plants with assistance.

Tips for Starting Chores With Toddlers

Knowing what chores to choose and how to execute them are entirely different problems. Parents must first select the appropriate tasks for their toddlers and then decide how to encourage their little ones to complete them regularly.

  1. Make It a Game

Children of any age love a game. Instead of simply telling a toddler to put their toys away, parents can call the toy bin a basketball hoop and challenge their kiddo to sink as many “baskets” as possible. Racing a timer is another great option most little ones respond well to, with the bonus that chores get done in record time.

  1. Play Music

Dancing out to their favorite kid’s tunes can make any job go much faster. Parents can crank up the music and dance with them while the whole family completes their daily chores — extra points for singing along.

  1. Set Up a Sticker Chart

While toddlers are natural people pleasers, they still need some help with motivation, especially when they’re being asked to complete the same task consistently. Setting up a chore chart with visual cues non-readers can understand will prompt them to remember what they need to do daily. As they finish, they get rewarded with a sticker to add to their board.

  1. Teach and Model the Task

Possibly the most important part of teaching toddlers to do their chores is to model it for them. They’ll need to see a parent or older sibling do it multiple times and help them several times as well. Each session will help their confidence grow and improve their independence with the skill.

Worth It in the Long Run

Though teaching toddlers to complete chores and maintaining a consistent schedule isn’t easy, it’s worth it in the long run. The life skills they’re learning in doing so are priceless. They’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of their peers who weren’t required to help around the house.