It may sound odd, but toddlers need daily experience with work to start thinking of themselves as competent people. Not burdensome work, but rather work in the spirit of Maria Montessori, or Tom Sawyer, who turned white-washing a fence into a reward.
Start with ordinary household tasks, not because he can really help you at this point – he may well make a mess.
Does the idea of your child "helping" on errands sound scary? Actually, by letting them help, we redirect their energy, and they're more cooperative and less likely to tantrum. Let's take the grocery store as an example. Most parents find shopping with a toddler or preschooler nerve-wracking and likely to end in a tantrum.
Get your child a small plastic child's grocery cart to push in the store. As you go through the aisles, choose the items on your shopping list. If the item can handle rough treatment, give it to your child to put in his cart. If the item is dangerous (uncooked meat) or fragile (eggs, peaches), just tell your child that this needs to go in Mommy's cart. He will be so happy with his own haul, he won't object. When you get to the checkout, let him unload his own cart. He can hand you the items to put on the cart, if he can't reach. He'll be so busy he won't be paying attention to the candy display. And if he's really worn out, by then he'll be happy to sit in the cart and snack on the healthy treat you let him choose.
The end result? Your toddler says "I did it!" and begins to think of himself – and to become -- a more capable, powerful person. And you get a more delightful toddler.
And you'll see personalized content just for you whenever you click the My Feed .
SheKnows is making some changes!