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The Secret Advantage of Chores for Toddlers
by Alyson Shafer

Honey, I Wrecked the KidsDoes your toddler do chores around the house? I know, I know, you're probably thinking what could a toddler possible do? They can hardly walk, talk or blow their own nose. How could they possible be responsible for helping around the house? Chores from the youngest age are not only possible; they also have secret advantages.

Why So Young?
Starting chores at a really young age sets the expectation that everyone in the family should pitch in, at least to the best of each person's ability. Harness the toddler's "ME DO IT" attitude that is the hallmark of their budding independence. Starting chores at a young age allows you to capitalize on your toddler's natural curiosity and their desire to learn, imitate and become masterful at a variety of skills from flushing the toilet to using a vacuum.

If you wait until your child is older to introduce chores, they are more likely to feel you're punishing them instead of feeling proud of being given responsibility. They'll whine "why me?" "why now?" After all, adults always did everything before.

Why Chores are Important
Children who are raised always being served develop a self-righteous outlook and come to expect service from others. Chores are the antidote! Giving children jobs to do ensures that your child experiences the "give and take" of life. Helping out and participating in making the home function is also the natural way that children come to feel a sense of their importance and belonging in the family.

Helping others is part of the glue that makes the family cohesive. It helps your family to work more like a team. One for all and all for one! Having jobs around the house also helps build a child's self-confidence and self-esteem as they learn they are competent at handle life and can conduct themselves in a positive worthwhile way.

Too Busy?
Yes, it would probably be easier and faster, and who are we kidding - a lot better quality job if we just grabbed the broom and swept the kitchen floor ourselves. Many parents simply say they don't have time to supervise and teach a toddler how to help. I think you don't have time NOT to. Children who don't feel connected to the family or important in the home will engage their parents through misbehavior instead.

I'd much rather be teaching a happy toddler how to use a broom and make cookies than yelling at one to stop jumping on the couch! A competent child can do more things independently and in the long run that will free up more time for you.

But what CAN they do, really?
Here is a list of a few ideas for jobs your 2 or 3 year old could get started on:

  1. Pick up unused toys and put in the proper place.
  2. Put books and magazines in a rack.
  3. Sweep the floor or use a hand held dustbuster.
  4. Place napkins, plates and silverware on the table. The silver is on but not correctly at first.
  5. Clean up what they drop after eating.
  6. Wipes up own spills.
  7. Carrying boxed or canned goods from the grocery sacks to the proper shelf. Putting some things away on a lower shelf.
  8. Clear own place at the table. Puts the dishes on the counter after scraping the leftovers off the plate.
  9. Fill the toilet paper rack with rolls of toilet paper.
  10. Clean a mirror or windows with spray bottle and paper towel.

Alyson ShaferAbout the Author:
Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada's leading parenting experts. Alyson is the best selling author of 3 parenting books; Breaking The Good Mom Myth, Honey, I Wrecked The Kids and her latest, Ain't Misbehavin. Alyson is the media's go-to person and speaks regularly on parenting issues involving kids of all ages. For tips on discipline, bullying, sibling rivalry and other daily parenting issues visit www.alysonschafer.com.

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