What Were the First Chores Your Toddler Help You With?

Updated on February 21, 2011
Y.C. asks from Orlando, FL
16 answers

I am wonder at what age and which ones were the first chores your toddler help you with, and if you prize them for doing them or because they are chores they don't get a prize...besides hugs and kisses.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the replies, I saw that many of your kids do a lot of stuff and I am wonder what ages are your kids, my is 2 and only help me "sometimes" clean some of her toys, so I am wondering if your toddlers are older or I mine is just having it too easy. I must point out that she is really messy but wasn't sure if it was time for her to help too but after reading some of your post I think she is ready and SO DO I. lol.

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answers from Bloomington on

My 3 1/2 year old began at about 3 picking up toys, carrying trash out with Daddy, taking his plate/cup to the sink, help unload dishwasher, help load washer and dryer. Most of these, besides toys, are not everytime. You know how toddlers are, unpredictable. He does not get a reward! Chores are what we do to help the family.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

When I was a nanny the "Big kids", "Little kids", and the lttlest kids all had assigned chores. The big kids had a little kid helper that they were to teach how to do chores the right way and the littlest kids helped but not very much. The littles kids could sort the silverware into the drawer.It is a pre-learning experience for math and other things when they entered school. They also did lots of other things too, all age appropriate but not punishable if they didn't do it or even if they did it but not well.

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answers from Chicago on

you praise them but not pay them if that makes sense. if you start it when they are little they will just know and understand that everyone helps to keep the house clean and picked up. my litlte ones help with everything in whatever way they were able. help to pull blankets up to make the bed, empty little trash cans (we used grocery bags in the bathroom trashcans so they can just pull those out to throw into the kitchen trashcan, they loved to dust. put an old tube type sock on their hands and they can dust the legs of tables and chairs , if you get a small broom they can help sweep of course at first all of that is mostly just a pain inthe butt for you lol but as they get older they can do real stuff , dry dishes and then on to washing them, sorting laundry, folding etc hubby handles outside stuff but they can help out there too



answers from Davenport on

Switching laundry from washer to dryer (we have front loaders) started at 2.

Matching socks in the clean laundry (started at 1.5), then folding hand towels or washcloths (3). My 4 year old folds some of her clothes and helps put them away in her room.

Dusting with a swiffer duster ( they LOVE this, had to have 2 dusters or there would be a fight!) started at 1.5.

Putting away the clean silverware in the drawer, and loading the dirties back into the caddy for the dishwasher Started at 2 or the bigger kid, and my little guy followed suit at 1.5, though his sorting skills weren't as great ( I keep the knives out and put them in myself at the end)

Putting any used plastic dishes or cups into the kitchen sink for me. 1.5 year old loved this as soon as he could reach to drop them in!

Picking up their own toys, of course, from walking age , on!

Picking up sticks and putting them in the burn pile before Daddy needs to mow, walking age, on!

Throw Daddy's pile of dirty laundry (next to the bed), down the laundry chute ( since somehow , he can't manage to do that himself **Eye ROLL*). Started about 2 years old!

They love these, and getting to help in a big kid way is its own reward, they are always so excited to help, and of course they get a big thank you and hug or high five....they do get a sticker on their charts for "helping mommy" when they do any of these things in a day.



answers from Chicago on

My son started helping me with laundry by moving things from the washer to the dryer. We would also sort things, light and dark. He has always wanted to 'help' so I gave him little tasks here and there. He also learned how to feed the cat (started with dumping the food that I scooped out in the bowl and now he opens up the cabinet, takes out the bag and does it himself).

I have never paid or given a prize for helping other than lots of verbal praise and hugs/kisses. I just believe that everyone in a household needs to contribute because they are part of the family. I don't want my son to think he is going to get 'paid' for every little thing he does because that isn't how the real world works. No one pays me to make my bed in the morning, so I'm not going to pay him to make his either but I will point out what a great job he is doing and make a big deal about it :)



answers from Phoenix on

My 18-month old son helps with everything! He helps me unload the dishwasher. He takes the plates out and hands them to me and puts away the non-sharp silverware in the drawer (he knows which drawer it goes in and just tosses the spoons and forks over the lip after pulling it open). He helps me load the front-load washing machine and when it's through washing he helps load the dryer. He has helped with these things for about 6 months now. Basically if he sees me doing something, he wants to help (wiping the table, putting toys away, sweeping). It takes a while, but eventually the job gets done. I reward him with lots and lots of praise. He's just happy to help his momma out!



answers from Dallas on

I think starting off with picking up their own things will take a load off of you. At that age, toddler age, making a BIG deal about how helpful they are and what a good job they are doing will make all the difference and make them feel special and want to do things. Mommy's helper! Even to this day, when my 14 year old washes the dishes, even though it is her daily duty, I still tell her how grateful I am that she did it and give her a hug!


answers from Lafayette on

my daughter is two, and since she was about 18 months, she would throw things away for me. she also helps pick up her room (i direct her what to pick up and where to put it). she doesn't get prizes or anything for doing it. just a very happy proud momma who loves to tell her how amazing she is when she listens and does what is asked of her. well sometimes when she helps me clean a lot, i will read her a special book. she has some books we don't read often because of how long they are. when she's helped an extra amount we will read one of those books.



answers from San Francisco on

My son has always taken out the recyclables with his big brother. He gets enough reward from doing something his big brother does. It'd be nice if he always thought that was a treat! : )


answers from Santa Fe on

My son as a toddler would not help with any chores - he's 6 now. I guess it just was not in his personality. Now he can be quite helpful but when he was little he would not pick up toys or sort laundry or anything. My daughter who is 16 months tries to help sort laundry (she's too little to really understand but she wants to!). She likes to wipe up spills. She loves to pick up toys and put them away. She also loves to take out silverware from the clean dishwasher and hand them to me one by one to put away. It's so cute! She also tries to sweep with her little broom but is not coordinated enough yet.



answers from Atlanta on

My little one loves to help! We make it all a game--singing, laughing, babbling--and he loves it. He puts all of his toys away in totes, will ask to have a cloth to clean the floors (mind you, he's not really cleaning anything, but mimics me scrubbing the floors), he loads both the washer and dryer. Basically everything he sees me do. I hope that if we make it fun now, when he is older and I tell him to do something, it won't seem so much like a chore!



answers from Seattle on

Putting clothing in the laundry basket, bringing plastic plates/cups from meal to kitchen, sorting spoons and forks from dishwasher, sweeping and dusting(kids love them both). I bought some of those swiffer dusters and she loves them. My daughter is 4 and loves to run the vacuum, so I let her.

The first two things are mandatory(clothing to basket and meal plates). The rest is just things she does for fun. And the job isn't always perfect, but I thank her and then maybe do a little follow up(sweeping, vacuum,dust)

No prize or reward for helping with family things. For our family, is about being a part of a family and these are the things you do. We will consider allowance when she is much older, but not for doing chores.


answers from Dallas on

Mine help if I give them "little bites" of work. I put a tub in the middle of the floor and say - put all the clothes in here. Then another tub - put all the cars in here. I also make them clean thier own messes if they spill something.



answers from Phoenix on

My 22 month old cleans up her toys, throws things in the trash or recycle bin for me, loves to wipe things up (the floor, her face, the cats, her face, the windows, her face, her shoes, her face), helps feed the cats and pushes clean clothes into the dryer for me. As I'm doing chores, I simply ask her to participate in small ways-hold the steam mop cord, push the vacuum, put Tupperware away when unloading the dishwasher, etc. I praise her and congratulate her for doing a good job, thank her for helping, but I do not give her prizes or treats for doing as I ask.



answers from Portland on

My little one (when he was a toddler) often helped me with some simple things:

He could walk toys to his room (I'd have to follow up with him on putting them away)

Gather like toys into a basket
Place clothes (handed to him from a parent) from a washer into the dryer
Turn on/off lights (need adult help)
Carry things to the recycling bin to drop in (usually paper items)
Carry bags for groceries (empty, of course) out to the car
Getting his diapers (when he was in diapers)

Helping to put groceries away (needs adult help, but can carry them from where they are unloaded to the bathroom, cupboard areas)

"Clearing his space" at the table, whenever reasonable. (Leftover soup? no!)

Helping during cooking: poking and stirring the yolks and egg for scrambled eggs; stirring jobs for cold food; pushing buttons on the cuisinart; 'helping' to choose fruit/veggies at the market and holding the bags open

These are just some of the opportunities for 'jobs'. I would encourage you not to assign chores at this age, but to just let them help in the moment. They still need a lot of adult involvement in things like cleaning their rooms, etc. but can do basic things like taking their laundry to the hamper. I've never 'rewarded' my son for these activities, because he's interested and this is an opportunity for him to learn how to do the job AND to feel like a contributing member of the family. I like to just say something simple like "Wow! It was fun doing the laundry with you. That really helped me out and now our clothes will be dry. Thanks for the help!" or "That was a big helper job, and you really helped me! Thanks!" A sincere smile or genuine hug is fine too, if you are both into it, but it's not a reward-- it's just an expression of having had a nice time together.

Have fun!


answers from Iowa City on

My 3 year old feeds the dog, picks up her toys and helps me unload the dishwasher, she puts her dirty clothing in the basket, she likes to help with dusting and swiffering the kitchen floor and filling the bird feeders. She is anxiously waiting for curb side recycling to begin this spring so she can help with that. She also helps with the garden in the spring and summer. We say thank you...no reward beyond that. She enjoys being helpful.

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