I know many mothers who simply pick up after their kids and don’t hold them responsible for their things simply because they think they are too young to do chores. NOT TRUE! You can start teaching children responsibility as early as around eighteen months, when they start learning how to follow simple directions. My daughter is fifteen months and already does a great job helping her brother put toys in the toy box.
Chores for Preschoolers
I remember about four years ago, uncomfortably pregnant with my son Roman, picking green beans from the garden. Bending over to pick each bean left me breathless as the baby in my belly encroached on my lungs. And I daydreamed about how wonderful it would be to, years later, have my little children help me in the garden. Now, my son is three and loves to help in the garden!
Kids are smart and young children, especially, are highly motivated by praise and rewards. They love to help. My son says, “I love to be your good helper, Mommy!” And he really does. He helps me with everything – dishes, laundry, cooking, and cleaning. There is usually some small way to involve him in what I am doing, no matter the task. My hope is that, in teaching him the feeling of satisfaction that comes with completing a chore, I am grooming him to have a strong work ethic and be self motivated to do his chores in our home, and in his own home one day.
My Preschooler’s Everyday Chores
- He picks up his toys.
- He puts his dirty clothes into the hamper.
- He puts his dirty dishes in the sink.
His responsibilities are simple. They are easy to remember and easy to do. Preschoolers have short attention spans, so I will not get anywhere by asking him to complete time consuming tasks. If he plays with is full set of blocks, I help he and his sister pick them up, because I don’t want him to be discouraged by the time it takes to pick them up.
Ways My Preschooler Helps with My Chores
Setting the Table
On the days we have a more formal dinner at our dining table (rather than the kitchen island), my son is able to help me set the table. I take the stack of plates out onto the table, and Roman places eat plate at its respective seat. He also gives everyone a napkin.
Roman loves to help me put the laundry in the washer, and move it from the washer to the dryer. He also helps put his own clothes away in his drawers.
While it requires close supervision, gardening is one of my favorite activities to do with my preschooler. He helps me plant the seeds and starter plants in the spring. He even picks out his own annual flowers to pot for our front steps each year. In the summer months, he waters his flowers and helps me pick summer vegetables like squash and tomatoes. Come fall, he is an expert sweet pepper picker. Gardening is a great way for kids to see the fruits of their hard work; what’s more motivating than that?!
I will warn you against having your kiddos help you weed the garden. They might just pull all your veggies out of the ground!
Dusting, wiping, and tidying are all things that a preschooler can do. While I won’t be allowing my son to help me bleach the toilet bowl, he IS able to wipe down the mirror, dust the bookshelf in his room, or wipe down the kitchen island. He also LOVES to Swiffer mop the floors.
Caring for Pets
What Children Learn From Chores
A little hard work never hurt anybody. Quite the opposite – giving your children the responsibility of chores will develop a stronger character in them. Chores teach concepts like delayed gratification, working as a team, and discipline. For my own children, the chore of picking up their toys serves as a way to teach the consequences of their actions. If you take out all the toys in the toy box, you will have to then put away all the toys back into the toy box.
Chores also develop self esteem within children. They see themselves as accomplishing goals and contributing to the household. Depending on the chore, they also have the opportunity to refine fine motor skills in activities like folding socks.
And then there are the benefits to you, the parent! It might be easier and faster to just put the toys and the tee shirts away yourself, but it will not help your child. Instilling that work ethic in them now will allow them to benefit, and later on, you will benefit too as your children are able to be more self sufficient and even take part in the household duties!
How to Start Chore in Your House
Start with small, age appropriate chores. Keep in mind your child’s attention span, motor skills, and ability to follow directions. Attach some sort of positive reinforcement to the completion of each chore, and make it specific to each child. For older children, an allowance might be appropriate, whereas in a young child, a sticker may suffice.
Be the example. Get yourself in a routine and stick to your responsibilities. Make your bed everyday. Don’t leave dishes in the sink. Give your children responsibilities and be consistent! Don’t give our rewards without the work being completed and make the chores a part of your every day routine. Then watch how proud your kids are of themselves, and how proud you are, too.
Your kiddo not quite a preschooler yet? Check out this post on how to involve your toddlers in chores around the house!