I believe it’s never too early to teach basic life skills, especially when children are in their toddler years. This is the age when they start to learn, communicate and explore.
Sometimes we feel that toddlers are too young to help around the house. But, for example, if they can pick up their toys, then they can easily place them back in a box.
I started teaching my toddlers simple tasks at this age when I felt they were ready to handle them. I showed them how to put their laundered clothing in drawers, they helped me make their beds by tucking in sheets, they really enjoyed “helping mommy” and I really appreciated the help. And I found out that at this age, there’s no need to adopt a reward system or create a chore chart for them. They are too young to understand these concepts. I noticed that they enjoyed helping out if you create a easy system for them. Here are a few tips:
Make cleaning fun for them. Play some fun children’s music, sing songs with them, clap to the music. My children actually dance to the music while picking up their toys.
Have a race. Make a game out of cleaning up by having them race against the clock. Set a timer for a few minutes and explain to them that they’re going to try to pick up all the toys in a couple of minutes before the timer buzzes.
Praise them. When you praise your children, you’re letting them know they’re doing a good job, and they will be encouraged to repeat that action. Even if they’re doing something that you asked them to do, they are still learning. Give them credit that they deserve. Whenever I praise my kids, I see their little faces light up and not only am I encouraging them, but I’m also building their self-esteem.
Don't overwhelm them. Toddlers can get easily overwhelmed if they’re given too much to do at one time. Give them small tasks like help you sort through laundry (let them match colors—a great learning activity), throw away small pieces of trash. My little toddler girl loves to dust. She holds the duster in her hand like it’s a wand (that’s what she calls it—“to make our castle shiny”). It’s something I know she can handle, so I let her go around the family room and dust a few pieces of furniture.
Guide them. Every time you introduce something new, instruct them how to do it. Show them how to open drawers to place their clothing inside, fold small towels or clean up scraps of paper after a craft activity.
Clean up regularly. My kids and I clean up twice a day. Having a scheduled cleanup not only ensures that your house will stay more organized, but will keep your children on a routine and they will learn what’s expected of them.
Put a limit on toys. Your toddler doesn’t need a lot of toys. Let them know that they can bring only 2 or three toys out of their room at one time. This will help keep cleaning up easy for them and keep your home more in order.