It’s important that all kids learn at some point how to help with chores around the house. But how early should this begin? Is it reasonable to think that there might even be simple chores for toddlers to begin doing?
Our experience is that little ones actually love to feel like they can help mommy and daddy out. And if you grab that opportunity and start training them at an age when they actually enjoy completing simple tasks, you might find that they don’t mind them as much later on, when they enter their elementary and teenage years.
And there’s no question that giving toddlers easy chores does wonders for their well-being and development:
- It keeps them occupied. What happens when a child is bored? What a loaded question! Anything can happen. They cry, they scream, they’re irritable, they get fidgety, they pout, et cetera, et cetera. A simple chore will keep them focused and locked in on the task at hand.
- It teaches them discipline and cleanliness. One day your not-so-young child will be an adult, and both discipline and cleanliness will be essential to their success in life. Why not help them get a head start?
- It gives them a sense of accomplishment. As small and insignificant as these chores may seem to an adult, they are huge feats in the eyes of a toddler. Watch your child strut around the house after drying a few plastic dishes or handing the dog a treat!
According to Dr. Marty Rossman (physician, award-winning author, speaker, researcher, and consultant), involving children in household tasks at an early age can have a positive impact later in life. “In fact”, says Rossman, “the best predictor of young adults’ success in their mid-20’s was that they participated in household tasks when they were three or four.” (Source: The Center for Parenting Education)The best predictor of young adults’ success in their mid-20’s was that they participated in household tasks when they were three or four. - Dr. Marty Rossman Click To Tweet
And while we don’t recommend assigning your toddler all 45 of our chores DAILY (let’s just say it … that sounds like child abuse), here is a lengthy list of simple chores for toddlers that you can choose from – chores that they should be able to handle . . . or at least help you handle.
Chores for Toddlers: In the Kitchen
How on earth am I going to teach a toddler to cook? You don’t have to! Just have them “assist” you. There are plenty of things that your child can help you with while you cook. Ask them to pass you a utensil, pot, or even an ingredient they will recognize.
Akin to cooking, baking is a great activity for you and your toddler. Have them bring you the flour or a wooden spoon. They will be more than content – especially if you let them taste-test the cookies!
3. Washing Dishes
Toddlers love bubbles. Pull up something safe for them to stand on (under your supervision, of course), and let them have a turn at scrubbing a few simple dishes. There’s no reason why they can’t do a decent job with spoons and plastic cups. Their little hands are growing surprisingly efficient!
4. Drying Dishes
Big disclaimer on this one: If your child is really young, you’re not going to give them anything that is glass, and knives are definitely “out of bounds”. But otherwise, feel free to pass them a towel and some Tupperware!
5. Clearing the Table
When preparing for dinner, there are probably items that need to be removed or packed away in order to set the table. Your toddler can gather these things and at least try to return them to their proper locations.
6. Setting the Table
Though it’s a chore that may take some practice to perfect, setting the table is simple enough for your child to attempt. Typically, they will only need to put out plates, forks, spoons, and cups. Step in and help if knives are needed for the meal.
7. Taking Dirty Dishes to the Sink
While the parents are washing up, ask your toddler to start bringing the dirty items to the sink. Chances are that this chore keeps them occupied for quite a while – especially if a few guests joined you for dinner!
8. Carrying Groceries
Now, a watermelon or 12-pack of Gatorade might be above their weight class, but lots of grocery items are light enough for a toddler to hoist into the kitchen.
9. Washing Produce
Again, the watermelon idea might fall through here, but your toddler can certainly handle apples, berries, and broccoli. Just remember to keep an eye on that stool they’re standing on.
10. Preparing Lunches
This one is heaps of fun for your toddler if you’re letting them pick some of the food items. At that age, nothing is more satisfying than customizing a lunch and then eating the work of art later on.
11. Pouring Water / Filling Water Bottles
As long as you’re using tap water or a simple water filter, even a toddler can manage pouring cups of water or filling water bottles for family members. There may be a learning curve at first, but it’s a skill that your child can master quickly!
Chores for Toddlers: In the Living Areas
This one partly depends on the model of vacuum cleaner you own. Some can get big and unwieldy, but lots of more lightweight and compact ones have become popular these days. Once your toddler gets over the loud, obnoxious, and strange sound, they will actually enjoy pushing a vacuum back and forth over your carpet. Vacuuming is another task that is fairly time-consuming, so you’ll be able to cross a few things off your own laundry list while they’re at it.
Assuming you have some hardwood or tile floors in your home, show your toddler how to use a damp mop (you may need to get your hands on a smaller children’s one) or a Swiffer.
Ah, the chore no one enjoys – except your toddler! Hand them a rag, duster, or sock, and let them have at it! If your child has allergies, maybe skip this one. After all, there are 44 others to choose from …
15. Piling Books and Magazines
Inevitably, your child will attempt to make a tower out of said books, which may or may not come crashing down. But, admit it – you tried it once or twice in your youth, too. It’s fun.
16. Tidying Toys
If you don’t already have toy boxes in accessible locations, we’d highly recommend getting a few because this probably won’t work without them. Bringing scattered toys to one place is an easy way for your child to develop the good habit of cleaning up. (Sing Barney’s “Clean Up Song” with them as they do!)
17. Wiping Up Spills
Mopping up a splash of water or applesauce with a damp cloth is something your child can manage. With that said, they might not be as efficient as you’d hope for. Let them do their best, and then finish the job. It’ll be a good way of showing them how to wipe up properly in the future.
18. Putting Trash in the Garbage
You can turn this into a treasure hunt of sorts. Wrappers, post-it notes, and paperclips are all fair game. Just keep an eye out for jewelry or bills that could mysteriously make their way in.
19. Making Their Bed
At this age, a made bed won’t be pretty; but it will be great practice for when your toddler gets a little older. You don’t want a teenager who still hasn’t figured it out. That’s aggravating.
20. Wiping Down Door Handles
Door handles can get filthy. They see so many hands throughout the day. Your toddler will benefit from the task of rubbing the handles with a rag and some disinfectant. Your family will benefit, too.
21. Straightening Pillows
You know those decorative pillows that always seem to fall off the couch and get scattered to different locations around the house? Well, that’s an easy fix. Instruct your child to return them to the couch and arrange them neatly.
Chores for Toddlers: In the Laundry Room
22. Putting Clothes in the Hamper
This chore is about as easy as it gets – your dog could almost do it. Clothes. Hamper. Transfer one to the other. That’s it!
23. Putting Clothes in the Washing Machine
Depending on your washing machine model this could be a bit of a reach for a toddler. Lift them up to throw in the dirty laundry, or set up a small stool for them.
24. Putting Clothes in the Dryer
Same concept, but the clothes are a little heavier now that they’ve been through the washing machine. You’ll probably have to give your toddler a hand.
25. Gathering Clothes From the Dryer
The clothes are light and fluffy again. Your toddler can easily pull them from the dryer and make a small pile on the floor. Just be mindful of their little head as they reach into the furthest depths of the dryer.
26. Folding Laundry
Have realistic expectations about this. Your toddler’s folding job is going to be more Picasso than Michelangelo. But that’s ok! You can always sweep through and refold some of these items later.
27. Matching Socks
This one is easy, and it’s fun! Your toddler will enjoy finding the different colors and patterns that go together.
28. Taking Fresh Laundry Piles to Rooms
Once all of the clothes are folded and are put in neat piles, tell your toddler to take each pile to its respective room. Just make sure you’re keeping everything on one level if your child isn’t yet comfortable with stairs.
Chores for Toddlers: In the Sunshine
29. Watering Flowers / Plants
If you have a flowerbed, ask your toddler to water the flowers or plants. This can quickly turn into “drowning” the flowers, so consider giving your toddler a controlled amount of water to start. Maybe get them their own small plastic watering can?
30. Sweeping the Porch
Though it’s not likely to be in pristine condition by the time your toddler is finished, sweeping the porch is a task that your child will enjoy. Give them a miniature broom and see how they do.
31. Picking Up Small Sticks in the Backyard
Another treasure hunt of sorts, your toddler can easily locate small sticks around the yard and bring them to a central location – whether it be you or a designated pile. They’ll also get a little vitamin D in the process!
32. Raking Leaves
Maneuvering a rake may prove to be a difficult task for a toddler, but start them with a pair of gloves and see how they fare. Making leaf piles is simple enough and over time you can introduce them to a rake. Of course, the leaf piles may prove just too tempting for junior, who will want to run through them and kick leaves everywhere. But that’s fun too! (Oh, don’t be such a grouch.)
33. Pulling Weeds
Another chore that will definitely require gloves, show your toddler how to pull a weed from its root. Once they get the hang of it, there’s a good chance they’ll actually enjoy the tedious task.
34. Packing Toys into the Shed
If you have young, active kids, you know that the backyard is almost never as clean as it should be. Instruct your toddler to grab all of the movable items and take them to the shed or garage. Items such as balls, bats, and toy trucks are very manageable.
35. Helping to Wash the Car
Again, toddlers love soap and bubbles! Why not equip them with a sponge, water, and soap and let them try to clean down your car? This is a chore you’ll want to do with them, but they’ll be beaming after the job is done (and hopefully your car will be, too).
Chores for Toddlers: All the Extras
36. Filling your Pet’s Food Dish
This can be as easy as taking the dog food from the cupboard and filling up the dish. If the food’s in a heavy bag, give them a hand. This is a great way for your toddler to bond with your pet, and it will help them learn how to take care of animals in the future.
37. Giving the Pet a Treat
One of the most fun chores for toddlers, your child will enjoy this activity because of how excited a pet gets when it’s about to get a treat! If your toddler feels intimidated or you have a pet that’s a little too rambunctious, perhaps hold your toddler and let them drop the treat from a high place.
38. Brushing Your Pet
Another way your toddler can bond with your pet is by brushing them. Teach them how to be gentle with the brush and how to cover the whole area of your pet’s fur coat.
39. Putting on a Coat
Speaking of coats, small children can certainly learn how to put one on. You may need to assist them for a while, but soon enough they will be pros! Practice makes perfect.
40. Washing Hands
This is one of the easiest chores you can teach a child, but it’s one of the most important because it lays the foundation for good hygiene. Teach them all the steps. Roll up sleeves. Turn the water on. Add some soap. Scrub hands (while they sing the happy birthday song – this teaches them roughly how long they need to scrub each time). Turn water off. Dry hands.
41. Brushing Teeth
This one can be hit-or-miss. There are some toddlers who can’t wait to brush their teeth and taste that minty flavor. Others loathe the whole experience. Either way, it’s something we all have to learn – so, persevere with it! Just remember to have a turn to make sure the job is done thoroughly.
42. Turning Off Light Switches
This one’s tricky, especially if your toddler is not yet tall enough to reach a switch. Still, there’s no harm in lifting them up and showing them how to turn lights off that aren’t in use. And when your toddler gets a little older and can finally reach those switches, your electric bill will benefit!
43. Brushing Hair
Keep an eye out to make sure your toddler isn’t damaging their hair in the process, but this task is simple enough that your child should be able to do a half-decent job. Consider brushing your hair at the same time, so that they get a feel for how it’s supposed to go.
44. Putting on Shoes (Velcro or Flip-Flops)
Laces can be difficult early on at this age, but toddlers can usually figure out flip-flops or shoes that have Velcro straps. It’s a great way of preparing them for the “big kid” shoes when that day comes!
45. Fetching Items
In general, a toddler should be able to fetch a recognizable item when you ask. This can actually be helpful to you if you’re heavily occupied with something and can’t divert your attention. It’s also one of the better chores for toddlers to handle because it teaches obedience and develops listening and recognition skills.
And that’s it … the list of 45 chores for toddlers that we promised you. We hope you find it helpful, and that it even sparks a few more ideas of your own! And there are certainly more you can come up with …
Check this out! This magnetic Melissa & Doug Responsibility Chart is fantastic, and they’ve managed to DOUBLE our list! This wonderful and colorful set includes provisions to track 89 chores for kids, from toddler ages upward.
Do you know of any great chores for toddlers you’d like to add? Please leave a comment below and let us know what else has worked for you and your child!
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