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How can I get my toddler to help with chores?

How can I get my toddler to help with chores around the house?
Submitted by American Baby Team

Children ages 2 and up can pitch in with many different kinds of tasks, like picking up their own clothes and toys, helping clear plastic dishes from the table, and walking with piles of junk mail to the recycling bin. Offer your child a mini bucket and sponge to help you wipe off the table after dinner. Once your kid can tell the difference between colors, ask for her help when you're sorting laundry. The key is to show him how and to make the chores as toddler-friendly as possible. Other ideas to make cleanup easy:
• Make sure everything has a place. Say, for example, you want your son to put away his Legos when he's done playing. Try cutting out a picture of Legos from a catalog or printing one from the Internet and then taping it to the Legos bin. He'll recognize the picture -- making the task more exciting for him -- and soon, with your help, he'll understand where his Legos belong at the end of each day. Also, mount a peg rack on the wall, low enough for your kid to hang up his own coat.
• Break down bigger jobs into smaller, more manageable tasks. When you ask your child to clean her room or put away her toys, she'll probably feel overwhelmed and, as a result, do nothing. Try turning cleanup into a game or activity: First ask her to go into her room and pick up all the paper, then have her go in and collect all the Barbies, for example.
• Get the whole family involved. Give each family member a different colored basket, then turn on some lively music and spend 10 minutes or so straightening up the house. This teaches good cleaning habits but makes it a fun game too. And, even better, you won't be the only one on cleanup duty anymore. --Katie Rockman

Originally published in American Baby magazine, May 2007. Updated 2009

The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.

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When I was the 2 year olds teacher at daycare, i took digital pictures of the toys in the classroom, printed and laminated them, and taped them to the bucket or shelf where those toys belonged. The kids responded much better to pictures of the toys in the room than generic pictures off the internet.
Submitted by MommyEngelmann
If you have ever watched the children's show: "Molly and the Big Comfy Couch, you would see that they do a "ten second tidy." I used this on my children when they were walking age, and they loved it. We would all rush around and pick up toy's, books, games, etc., getting as much done within the 10 second timer. As my children grew older we went from a 10 second tidy to a 10 minute tidy, eventually to a 20 minute tidy. We still do this at their high school ages. It makes picking up more fun!
Submitted by walshsatchi04