When I was a child my parents had us contribute around the house. We always were responsible for making beds, cleaning bedroom and when we were a little older we rotated chores in the common areas - kitchen, living room, bathrooms. We also had to do things when asked. I.e. mow the grass, take out the trash, and pull weeds in the garden.
I plan on doing some version of chores for the kiddos so I am starting early. Some good advice I received from a fellow mom is that you have to start early. Let them know it's just part of living in our house and being a part of our family. If they don't know anything differently then it goes much more smoothly then trying to implement something when they are 8 or 9 or later!
I started "chores" with my son when he was about 10 months old and I continue to work with him on new and old chores every week. Here are 5 tips for teaching your toddler chores and getting him/her to enjoy them!
1. Start with one at a time... don't pile all of them on at once! I started with picking up toys because it's fairly easy, it's something we can do throughout the day, and they don't even have to be walking to do it. I recommend starting with only one because you can focus on it and get it right before moving on.
2. Model while explaining it. When I want to introduce a new chore I do it myself a few times while I explain what I am doing.
- "Mason, I am picking up this toy. Now I am putting it away in the ottoman where it belongs when we are finished playing so we can find it next time."
- "Look at mama putting my cup in the sink! When cups are in the sink we can clean them to use them later."
Part of the explanation of what I am doing is explaining why I am doing it.. to find it later, to have clean cups, etc.
3. Assist the first couple of times. After modeling it myself, my son is ready to try it himself. I am there to assist the first couple of times in case he struggles. This avoids frustration. He knows I am there for when he needs help and he to show him how to do it. If I see that it's not a problem for him then I just let him show off a bit. :) just remember not to go over board and do it for him/her or continually assist. Let them be independent.. the sense of accomplishment keeps my son interested.
4. Encourage him/her! I constantly encourage and thank my little one. I tell Mason how much he is helping mama and thank you. I will also say things like "Wow you are such a big boy when you (fill in the blank)". He always signs thank you back. :)
I am careful not to use a demanding tone. And one thing we learned from Love and Logic Parenting classes at our church is that you should say what you do, not what they have to do. For example, "I snuggle good boys who put away their toys before bed". It's meant to let them know what you approve of, what you can/are willing to do, and not act like a drill sargeant.
5. Have them do chores when they are happy. This is an important one. Don't wait until they are freaking out because they don't want to go to bed. When they are playing nice have fun with clean up! It's similar to what I do when we have to leave or do something else. I tell him that we have ten minutes, in five minutes we will clean up. A warning helps to reduce the shock of change and gives them a heads up of what is coming up.
I prepared a follow on post with a list of 20 chores for 20 Month olds... it's a list of all the chores we have our son do with some ideas of the age to start them. I hope you check it out!
Those are my tips for teaching toddlers how to do chores around the house! I'm not a perfect mama and I know there are different parenting styles out there so if you have any suggestions or tips of your own then feel free to share... I would love to hear them!
<- Kassy ->