Creative Child

Taming Your Toddler with Chores?

By, Joanna Gordon

I've noticed whenever I'm busy running around making breakfast, lunch or dinner, my toddler seems to be increasingly needy and wants all of my attention. When I explain, "mommy will play after dinner is ready or the kitchen is cleaned up," she just pleads harder and acts out her frustration. My advice to taming the tantrum - ask her to help!


The other day, after I noticed she was about to start whining, I quickly suggested she throw the empty egg carton into the recycling bin and just then, she snapped out of it. Just like that! Then she eagerly ran to toss the item away. This behavior reminded me that even young toddlers want to participate in all the daily family functions and this helps them feel proud and accomplished.

I am a fan of the Love and Logic philosophy and parenting expert Jim Fay, co-founder of "Love and Logic", says we all need to feel needed and to know that we're making a contribution -- even kids. "But they can't feel that way if they don't have chores and make contributions to the family," Fay says.

I've had my daughter helping me in the kitchen since she was 18 months old. By helping, I mean, she was pouring ingredients; like pre-measured flour and milk into the bowl to make pancakes or waffles. Then stirring of course!


Some parents I shared this with were concerned with the messiness factor. But cleaning up the mess is also part of the learning process. And in all honesty, who hasn't spilled a little milk or flour on the counter being in a hurry. All of this is easy to clean up. Especially, since it's another fun activity for a toddler to do. You'll be surprised how eager your toddler will be when you give them a wet sponge and dry towel to clean up any messes!

So get your toddler involved in the daily tasks!

Here are some ideas to help encourage their participation and daily chores:

  • Help make meals (rinsing fruits and vegetables, measuring and mixing ingredients)
  • Rinsing non-sharp and non-breakable dishes, pots, pans and cutlery
  • Watering plants (indoor and/or outdoor)
  • Clean up their toys (after play time and bath time)
  • Putting their dirty clothes into a hamper or down the laundry chute
  • Sorting (and folding) their own clean laundry (socks, undies, t-shirts etc.)
  • Wipe up small spills
  • Dusting

So consider putting those toddlers to work!

For more toddler advice, check out How to Parent with Sensitivity and When Children Make Messes.

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