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Chores For Toddlers And Preschoolers
It's never too young to instil a good work ethic in your kids, even those as young as two, three or four. In fact, introducing chores helps them feel like they are part of a team and gives them the opportunity to feel pride in their achievements. However, handing out chores to preschool children isn't as simple as drawing up a household rota. The majority of household jobs are understandably outside of their ability or are simply not safe. There's also no point in being too regimented about what and when they do chores. Introducing chores at this age is more about taking opportunities when they come and slowly introducing the idea of pitching in.
Garden jobs and chores
Kids love being outdoors, even when it's wet and cold, so why not give them some chores to do around the garden? Avoid anything that requires machinery or sharp tools for obvious reasons. Instead, focus on nurturing plants and tidying up. Tasks can include sowing seeds, watering the plants, and even assisting with moving seedlings from pots to beds with a trowel. There's nothing more exciting for a child than to see a seed they planted grow, especially if it results in a sunflower or perhaps even a tomato or strawberry that they can eat.
Helping in the kitchen
In addition to the garden, this is one of the areas where most young children are genuinely eager to assist. After all, they love eating the food, so why wouldn't they want to be a part of creating it? Why not look through some cookbooks together and let them choose a recipe? They can help you find the ingredients at the store, help you put away the shopping and then help with the actual cooking or baking. Be sure to give them jobs they can do safely; a two-year-old cannot handle a food blender or a knife, but they can mix with a wooden spoon, try kneading dough, put toppings on a pizza or shred lettuce. Remind them to put things away as you work and even encourage them to help you wash, dry and put away dishes at the end.
Tidying up the toys
Whether it's the living, playroom or bedroom, getting a young child to put their toys away at the end of the day is a simple, easy and safe chore that needs little assistance but has a big payoff. It helps a child understand that everything needs to be put away after use and can also be a helpful marker in the day between play time and calm time.
Helping with younger siblings
When a new baby comes along, it's extremely common for toddlers to feel displaced, so letting them be part of the process is a great way to kill two birds with one stone. They end up assisting you with simple chores (such as getting a diaper at changing times) while bonding with the baby and not feeling left out. As children start to read, they can even read stories to their younger sibling. As soon as they can talk, they can tell a story simply by using the pictures in a book. This can be incredibly helpful to you as a parent while you are still tidying up the kitchen, making a bottle, preparing the bedroom for bedtime or running the bath.
Using rewards and positive encouragement
The jury is out when it comes to rewards, but verbal encouragement certainly goes a long way. From a very early age, children develop the need to please others, especially their parents, and showing that you are proud and happy of them helps children develop into confident, self-assured adults. Never take their actions for granted; even if they put away their toys every day, it still needs positive encouragement every single time. For families that do choose to use a reward system, you can easily factor in chores to a chart and reward accordingly. As they get older, rewards of stickers, screen time or treats can naturally evolve into pocket money.
As you can see, it's easy to add simple, helpful chores into your everyday routine. These chores will make the foundations of your child understanding that we all need to do our part, encouraging them to become helpful members of their household into older childhood. Giving them plenty of positive encouragement, as well as the time and space to solve their own problems as they go about their chores, will also work wonders for their mental, physical and emotional development.