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Chores Your Two Year Old Can Do
Many parents struggle with getting their children to do chores when they grow to be older children and pre-teens. I have a sneaking suspicion from my observations and personal experiences, that it is mostly due to not starting our children out with chores and tasks at as early an age as possible.
We often don't start our children out with any tasks or chores when they are young, because we either don't feel they will understand, that they won't physically be able to complete the task or we want the control of knowing the task will be done right. NONE of these are good reasons for not giving our children chores and ALL of them are good ways to make your parenting world much harder as time goes on.
Now... You maybe be thinking that I'm crazy when I talk about chores for two year old's, though there are some very good reasons for getting them started this early:
1. You're teaching them Life Skills that they will need as they grow older.
2. If you start you're child out with tasks now, while they are young, you can still get them excited about doing them. Doing something exciting is much more interesting then doing something we 'have to do'.
3. Although it can be difficult to watch them do their chores wrong or not the way you would (at first), once they get them down, that's one less thing you have to do for them and one more task of your list.
4. Your two year old is at the age where he or she would like to start becoming independent in their own ways. Giving them some tasks or chores can help them to find that independence.
5. Most parents spend their days scolding their children for misbehaving, though they rarely remember to reward them for their good behavior. Chore time can be one of those times when you can easily remember to praise them for the things they are doing right (even just trying to do the task counts!). Once you've started focusing on rewarding them for completing their chores, they will start to see chore time as a time when they can get the good attention and affection from you that they really need.
6. When you start your child out with light chores at an early age, it will help to prepare them for more challenging tasks when they are older. Some of these chores or tasks might be: Homework, Summer Jobs or Taking Care of Themselves. You want them to succeed at these more difficult tasks, so start them out with the little things now, instead of suddenly shocking them when they are 8 or 9, with a list of things they must do.
7. Your two year is probably still young enough that you are just now starting to teach them the rules of house and world around them. 2 years old is when most parents realize there is a need for discipline, because at two, our children start to realize they can misbehave on purpose.
So now that you've got some new sound logic floating around your brain space, let's talk about some of the chores and task your two year old can (and should) do.
Obviously your two year old hasn't built a long enough attention span to go through every single task included in the laundry, but they are not to young to get started with smaller parts of the puzzle. You can have them load their own laundry into a laundry basket and drag the basket to you in the laundry room. They can load wet clothes (in a basket) into the dryer. The best part of laundry, is going to be the matching game. This is a great way to help your child expand their vocabulary, learn to use their words and help them to recognizing things that go together (like colors, shapes, ect). They can match all the blue clothes together, then match the shirts together, socks together and so on. Your two year old will love doing this as you praise them for each matching they get right. Then you can fold the clothes and if your child is still interested, they can learn folding and help you out.
B) Drying Dishes
Now obviously it wouldn't be a good idea to hand your two year old glassware and expect them to clean that without breaking it. Though they can clean plastic cups, plates, bowls and silverware. These will usually just be the dishware they use themselves anyway, so it will be a good way to help them learn to clean them properly ("Uh Oh... I see there is still some food stuck on there... Do you really want to eat that old food when you use your plate tomorrow?"). They will really get a sense of accomplishment in knowing that they can protect themselves from germs and yucky tastes.
C) Picking Up Their Toys
When you ask your child to pick up their own toys, you are doing two major things. You are teaching them to clean up after themselves and you are teaching them to appreciate their toys. Cleaning up toys helps the toys to last longer, so we can play with them longer. It also keeps our toes from being hurt from stepping on them... Just remember, if there are so any toys in your childs room, or in the house, then you've got too many toys all together and you need to downsize. Too many toys can actually make a young child uncomfortable from too many choices. Keep it to an even number of 10 toys. When they get bored of those, get rid of them before you bring (or allow) anymore toys home.
D) Dressing Themselves
By two years old, your child should already be interested dressing themselves. Though even if they haven't made it clear to you that they are interested, now is a good time to introduce them to the task. They may still need your help with buttons, zippers and making sure their clothes aren't on inside-out, though they should be able to do the rest mostly by themselves. Make sure all the clothes available to them are clothes that fit, so that they can pick out anything they want to wear. Don't worry if it matches or not. This is just the beginning and you want it to be enjoyable for now. As they get better at this task, you can start to teach them to wear clothes that match and look good together. For now, the concept of matching is a desire from parents, it's not a necessity.
E) Helping With Dinner
At two years old, your toddler isn't going to have the attention span to stick with you through the whole process of dinner. Though they can be brought in to help with certain parts. You can have them wash vegetables and fruits, set the plates and napkins on the table, or mix up some ingredients. To get the best results with these tasks, have them do each one on a different night. That way they can stay involved as long as their attention spans will allow and you can have a fun moment with them in the kitchen.
F) Basic Hygiene
At two years old, it's definitely time to begin potty training if you haven't already. Aside from that large task, you can also have your toddler start learning to brush their teeth, comb their hair and wash themselves in the tub. They will still need your supervision and guidance with these tasks, though they will enjoy being able to take care of themselves.
G) Watering The Lawn
This is a great summer time task that every two year old will love. You can also help them learn about quality watering and not quantity watering. Help them learn to get the water everywhere around the lawn and not just in one puddle in one place.
There are plenty of other chores and tasks that you can start your two year old out with. The important part is that you start them on some tasks now. They don't have to be able to do all of these tasks in one day, or even all in one week. Start them out with one or two tasks and then add on more as they become better at the tasks they started out with.