Involving your child in daily chores

Nov 15, 2011 at 3:30 p.m. ET

Can't seem to find the time to sweep, vacuum or dust while your child clings to your leg? These useful tips, ideas and child-sized cleaning supplies will help get your child involved, interested and engaged.


Allow your child to shadow you

Young children love to mimic the actions of adults and older siblings. By carefully selecting your daily chores for specific times of the day -- and tailoring your schedule to you child's likes and dislikes as well as age-appropriate activities -- you will find that not only will you get stuff done, you will end up spending some fun quality time with your child.

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Your toddler or preschooler can help you with plenty of daily chores:

  • Vacuum the house, allowing your child to help push the vacuum or follow you with his or her own toy vacuum
  • Dust high surfaces while your child helps wipe down the lower surfaces
  • Organize and clean up toys to clear a floor space or rug
  • Sweep the kitchen floor together or have your child follow you with his or her own child-sized broom

Older children can help:

  • Prepare lunches for the next day
  • Make dinner together
  • Fold and put away laundry
  • Collect trash from around the house

20 Age-appropriate chores >>

Make it a learning experience

Children love to hear their parents talk and they love to talk about the world around them. To make chores a learning experience and more interesting for your child, here are some examples of things you can do and say as you clean together.

  • Name each item: "This is a broom."
  • Explain your actions: "A broom sweeps up dirt."
  • Show examples of cause and effect: Sweeping dirt into a pile, vacuuming over crumbs, wiping up spilled water.
  • Count, name colors and point out directions: Left to right, up and down, back and front, high and low.

Boost your child's self esteem and sense of independence

When you give a child a chore, they feel accomplished. When you involve a child, they feel a sense of independence and become proud that they can be helpful. You can help boost these feelings for your child by including them in your daily activities and verbally rewarding their actions.

Tip: Just make sure you take into consideration your child's individual behavior patterns. For instance, if your child doesn't like the vacuum, wait for another time to complete that chore. But if your child loves sweeping, include that chore in your time together.

Currently, my toddler is in the "I want to do it myself" phase, so I make sure he has his own child-sized broom. I am also prepared to allow him to use mine should he feel the need to do exactly as I'm doing.

By including your child in your daily chores, you can potentially decrease stress and feel less overwhelmed when stuff doesn't get done. You can also make an otherwise daunting and monotonous task a little more fun by adding some quality time with your little sidekick and even set some expectations for future responsibilities around the house.

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More on involving children with household activities

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8 Ways to make cleaning fun for kids

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