Your toddler is now entering what Montessori calls the “sensitive period” of wanting to help. You may see them putting passion and zest into household work like throwing away trash, wiping up spills, and helping with the laundry.
Giving your toddler opportunities to help around the house makes them feel independent and valuable. They have an innate drive to contribute and find a lot of confidence and joy in having their own role and responsibilities.
Research shows that children who are exposed early to household work without rewards are more likely to be helpful and involved later in life. Child development experts consistently say happy children are the ones who are given responsibilities around the house for which they don’t get a prize or money. Talk to your toddler about being an important part of your household community.
Try to let go of needing their early work to be productive (or even complete) and think about it as an investment in making a habit of helping.
Here are some ways to let your toddler help out around the home
Encourage them to:
- Throw away pieces of trash
- Clean up/wipe up spills
- Transfer clothes from the washer to the dryer
- Sort silverware from the dishwasher to the silverware tray
- Put placemats on the table
- Open and close doors
- Prep snacks (by peeling eggs or cutting soft foods like bananas or avocados)
- Take small bags of trash to the outdoor bins
- Feed pets
- Water plants
- Help with siblings
- Bring in the mail