Chores For Young Children

My primary life role at this point is as mommy, though I definitely bring my OT perspective to the table. This can mean presenting my toddler with frustrations to find the "just right challenge" or trying to have him follow an "if/then" chart. Another feature has been including self-care and chore tasks early on into our routine. Kids like having a purpose, being helpful, and celebrating an accomplishment so learning chores is positive at any age. I am focusing on chore activities for kids under 18 months.

(isn't he just adorable, even from the tush angle?)

Before your child has the motoric control to help with chores, you can narrate the activities you are doing as he is with you. This can be very simple- "I'm turning off the light. Now I'm locking the door." etc. This helps build his speech processing and general cognition.

One of the first things we taught our son was how to turn the light switch off. It was easier to push down than turn up, and it gave him an instant and noticeable effect. We probably started this about 7-9 months and it continues to be a favorite.

Placing things in and out is another early skill that is learned. Before he could really follow directions to transport an object, we let him play in the laundry baskets and dump items in and out (before they were folded!). Then he graduated to putting dirty clothes in the hamper, into the washing machine, and taking trash to the trashcan. (13-15 months)

Kids enjoy housework activities with real or child sized versions of typical cleaning items. Usually this is more of a pretend play than actual help, but there are some exceptions. A regular swiffer sweeper can be modified so that it is small enough for a child to use, and can then still have the swiffer wipes attached. Also, the swiffer dusters are lightweight and can be used for cleaning surfaces your toddler can reach. Any dirt picked up is a bonus, since it's something he enjoys anyway. (14-18 months)

Here's a list of some of the chores that we have been working on. Obviously all of these should be done only while the child is supervised and with child-safe products. You may also want to visit my pinterest page for ADL activities which has several additional lists of chores and guides for teaching children with disabilities. 

Turning lights on/off
putting dirty clothes in basket
pushing basket to room
putting dirty clothes in washing machine
pressing buttons to start washing machine, dishwasher, Roomba (my son is fascinated by buttons... I try to discourage this but he has gotten really good about starting the washer even without me helping him)
Taking trash items to trash can
picking up spilled food (crackers, large pieces)
cleaning tray with a wipe after eating
taking bowl to sink to be washed
picking up toys
sweeping the floor
spraying cleaner on windows (there are a ton of recipes for child-safe cleaners, or you can just use water)
putting away bath toys
hanging up towel

Please feel free to share additional ideas! I will do another post on self-care activities when I can!