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When I heard my toddler mutter “I do what I want” the other day, I cringed and realized it was about time that we put a little more structure in place.
Yes, he’s only 3, but the benefits of delegating tasks and incorporating your child into family jobs are invaluable. Kids get such a sense of pride from doing what mom and dad do.
Contributing to the household is a method of freedom that toddlers so desperately crave. This is why they may say things like “I do what I want” and “I’m the boss”. They are trying to voice, find and establish their autonomy.
Performing chores is an excellent platform for independence.
We are parents, teachers, and leaders, we owe it to our kids to help positively develop that independence. And what better place to start than through chores?
Embrace a mindset that anticipates a learning curve and that a simple task to you is a complex, independence building task for a toddler. This will help mitigate frustration.
Put away your expectation of perfection. The importance of chores for toddlers is learning how to do it on their own, not necessarily the end result.
If the bed doesn’t get made as fast or as nicely as you would do it, NO. BIG. DEAL. Do not step in and do this for them. If you do, it negatively reinforces that they cannot do it which turns into anger and meltdowns.
When timing is an issue, remember to initiate the task earlier. It is most important they accomplish the chore, not you.
Creating a daily habit of a morning, afternoon and evening chore will establish routine and consistency. This will be a building block that they can carry with them as they grow.
A common chore in the morning could be ‘making the bed.’ When you use my simple 2 step method, you’ll have a toddler doing a daily chore in a matter of days!
(1) Use a routine chart that illustrates the chore
(2) Model the behavior by giving yourself the same chore
Toddlers love to mimic – use this power to your advantage. If he sees you making your bed, chances are he’s going to want to do the same. Harness that desire for mimicry while you can!
With the right mindset and a routine in place, it is time to develop a list of simple chores that your preschooler can do.
Here are a few that work well for my 3-year-old boy:
Take out trash
Wipe (with a baby wipe) surfaces
Make chores even EASIER by grabbing my Chore Squares, this a chart you can laminate and hang up on a magnetic surface. When assigning a chore, place a magnet in the square of the task you want your child to complete. This a great, uncomplicated way to visually communicate to your toddler. Maybe you even let your toddler pick?
MAKE IT EASY
When selecting tasks for chores, keep them age appropriate. The goal is to make the chores achievable so your child can take pride in contribution and completion.
Remember, keep it simple. We do this by sticking to 2-3 chores: a morning, afternoon and/or evening chore.
The morning chore for us is making the bed, this stays consistent because I found that my son has a better morning transition when he follows a set routine.
We rotate the afternoon and evening chore to give him a variety of different jobs. Job rotations give him the confidence to complete tasks even when they are not assigned.
Taking on responsibility in the form of chores helps toddlers grow and best of all it gives them a life skill!
Giving a toddler responsibilities is an amazing way to teach self-discipline. After the awesomeness of mimicking Mom or Dad wears off, he may realize that chores aren’t so great. Ah, life!
As us adults have all learned, sometimes we must do things even when we don’t feel like it. Chores act as a coaching mechanism for self-discipline. Our toddlers will learn to complete the task even when they’re not feeling it.
It may take a few power struggles here or there but don’t give in. DO give them the tools to work through it. Remember, if you do the chore for them, it will detract from the goal of independence, learning, and self-discipline.
Self-discipline today will translate to successful traits later in life. Think teenagers who need to study for exams, athletes who dedicate time to training, or adults who commit to a healthy lifestyle. All these things take self-discipline.
APPRECIATION + VALUE
Chores also give a child a sense of purpose and ownership. They realize that they are contributing to the household when they help out. Think of this like a job you have/had, when you contribute to the team, did you feel more fulfilled in your role? A majority of the time, the answer is Yes.
And in your job, is it important to you that your work is recognized and/or rewarded?
Reward and recognition are motivators for most people – the same goes for our kids. Let them know they are doing a good job! The more value you build into it, the more cooperative your child will become.
Positive Phrases to Use:
- Good job | Excellent job | Nice work
- Thank you for helping out
- That wasn’t easy, but look how well you did
- We appreciate you helping the family
- I am proud of you
Another form of recognition may come as an allowance. I’ve read both the good and the bad to giving an allowance in trade for chores.
I don’t think there’s a right answer here – each family is different and builds a system that meets their family needs and values. If you see this as an opportunity to teach your preschooler about money, go for it! But if you view this as counteractive to self-motivation, stick with your gut!
In my next post, I tackle this subject with a fun and educational rewards system that promotes responsible children AND readers! This system isn’t 100% allowance based but it’s not adverse to incentive either. I see it as a healthy balance to work in a tangible reward for your child. Can’t wait to share it with you!
I’d love to hear your feedback – how does your family tackle chores? If you don’t have a system in place today, get started and grab my free Chores Squares printable.
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