5 Easy Ways to Get Your Toddler Excited About Helping!

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My 21-month-old daughter wants to help with everything. If she sees me sweeping, she immediately tries to snatch the broom, announcing, “I help!” And don’t get me started on emptying the dishwasher. When she sees the dishwasher door open, she will fly across the room and go straight for her sippy cups, matching the tops and bottoms and placing them on the counter near the cabinet where we keep them in. Then she’ll proceed to hand me each utensil, one at a time, with a cheerful, “Here you go!”

This completely mystifies me. Not only does she actually know where they go, but she wants to help. And it goes beyond sweeping and emptying the dishwasher. If my daughter spills milk on the floor, she will ask for a towel or grab the nearest dishrag to wipe up her mess. If she dumps her crayons out on the floor, she picks them back up. There have been many times when my husband and I turn to each other and ask, “Where did she come from?”

I realize toddlers like to imitate their parents’ behavior, and that likely explains part of it, but I know from having an older child that this is not quite the norm.Even now, getting my 6-year-old son to help with anything – even something as simple as finding his sneakers — usually involves repeated asking, nagging, begging and eventually counting to three.

But for whatever reason, my daughter loves to pitch in. So we’ve been trying to come up with simple, age-appropriate tasks to encourage her and help her feel proud and useful. And if this makes it easier to get her to do her chores when she’s older, even better!

Here are five simple ways your toddler can help with household chores:

1. Being “Mommy’s Important Helper”. My daughter loves to help transfer the wet clothes from the washing machine to the dryer and push the buttons to turn it on. Sometimes, it’s fun to pretend that this is a job you just can’t do without them (even if you really can!).

2. Give them ownership over their things. Picking up her books, toys, crayons, etc. when play time is over. You’re teaching your tot to take care of their things.

3. Teach them to be independent, and praise them when they are. If she spills, offer her a towel to wipe it up herself rather than doing it for her. The first few times, maybe you show them how to do it, but then let them give it a try. When they’re done, let them know how great they did!

4. Make it a game! Let your toddler help unpack the groceries. Not only do they feel like they’re being useful, but they also get a sneak peek at all the goodies you brought home from the store. You can teach your toddler new food names (or even make it a guessing game!), and come up with exciting food games you can play with all your packaged goodies. You might even turn them on to a new snack!

5. Let them know their pets need them, too.  My daughter likes to help take care of our dog, and filling her water bowl is something she can do herself. I try not to cringe when she walks over with a full bottle, spilling a bit on the way, but she gets such a look of pride on her face when she’s done.

And don’t forget to praise your child with a hug and a big “Thank you!” when the job is done!

Does your toddler like to help out around the house?

Plus, more from The Bump:

5 Wacky Parenting Methods… That Work?

What Table Manners Can I Teach My Toddler?

How to Get Your Toddler to Do Stuff He Doesn’t Want to Do