Looking for ways to build your toddlers confidence? Ready for your kids to gain some independence? Here are 87 self help skills for toddlers ages 18 months to 3 years!
Most of us do too much for our kids. Whether it’s delivering forgotten homework to school or fixing a second option for dinner because we have picky eaters, it’s easy to grow entitled kids by meeting their every demand. But we’re actually doing them a disservice by not fostering independence! Some might consider these “chores” but the goal of these toddler tasks is to teach them to do things for themselves.
Why is it important to teach toddlers self help skills?
There are a number of benefits of teaching toddlers to fend for themselves. And the best part is they usually want to help! Here are some of the major positives of working on self help skills for toddlers:
- Gives kids a sense of significance and belonging within the family.
- Builds your child’s confidence and self-worth.
- Teaches responsibility.
- Lightens the load for mom and dad.
- Helps kids develop a sense of community.
- Fosters a “helper” attitude.
- Teaches valuable life-skills.
So how can you get your toddler to help themselves?
Start with simple activities, and slowly progress to more complicated tasks as fine motor skills and attention span improve. Here’s an epic list of tasks you can assign your toddler.
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In The Kitchen
To foster our toddlers independence, we invested in a learning tower. This way our tots could join us at counter height. It was easy for them to participate in toddler self-help activities when they could climb up themselves, but it’s very important to control the counter-height environment if you get a learning tower! Knives should be in a locked case (we have this one), chemicals should be stored in locked cabinets, and breakable items should be removed from countertops.
- Wash spoons in the sink
- Wash firm veggies and fruits in the sink
- Wipe down the counter
- Use a nylon, kid-safe knife on soft fruits and veggies
- Pour ingredients into mixing bowls
- Stir batters or mixes when appropriate
- Assist with simple meals (i.e. sprinkle cheese on a pizza)
- Pull clean dishes from dishwasher and hand them to an adult
- Close fridge/freezer doors when asked
- Wipe lower cabinet handles
- Sweep with a hand broom
- Wipe up spills
- Fetch a new trash bag when mom takes out the trash
- Help un-bag groceries
- Put trash in the wastebasket
At The Dining Table
- Set the table
- Straighten chairs
- Hand out napkins
- Scoop food from family-style bowls onto their plate
- Open slider ziplock baggies
- Feed themselves with a kid spoon or fork
- Pour a glass of water or juice (with a half full pitcher)
- Scrape dirty plates into the trash
- Put dishes in the sink (or on counter)
- Say grace or the blessing
- Wipe down the table
- Wipe their own mouth
In Their Bedroom
- Take off shorts
- Take off shirts
- Sort day clothes from pajamas
- Remove clothes from hangers when getting dressed
- Put dirty clothes in the laundry hamper
- Place empty hangers on the rod (not on the floor)
- Put toys away
- Straighten pillows
- Straighten blankets with assistance
- Clean up stuffed animals
- Tidy books
- Turn off lights when exiting (may need stool)
In The Bathroom
- Wash hands properly
- Replace toilet paper (may need assistance)
- Hang hand towels
- Clean up bath toys
- Use a washcloth or loofa to wash body (with assistance)
- Open soap bottle tops
- Wipe down counter
- Wipe down cabinet handles
- Brush their own hair (with assistance)
- Brush their own teeth (with assistance)
- Wash their own face (with assistance)
- Place dirty clothes in the hamper or laundry chute
- Hang up their own towel
- Put lotion on their own skin (with assistance)
In The Living Room
- Clean up books and toys
- Straighten couch pillows
- Dust/wipe down tables
- Stack magazines or coffee table books
- Clean up dirty cups/dishes from living room
- Place remotes in designated spot
- Use a dust-buster or small vacuum
With The Laundry
Letting kids help with laundry from early on can be greatly beneficial! There are many dangers related to laundry, however. Make sure kids understand it’s never safe to get into a washer or dryer. When not in use, we keep a small towel hanging over the door of our front load machines (so they cannot be closed) just in case! Also, keep laundry pods secure in a locked container. They are often brightly colored and you do not want your kids to be tempted to put them in their mouth!
- Place all dirty clothes in the hamper
- Help remove dry clothes from the dryer
- Fold clean washcloths
- Fold clean dish or hand towels (may need assistance)
- Match socks
- Place folded clothes in baskets or drawer
- Fetch empty hangers from their closet
Kids love to be outdoors! Find ways for them to contribute outside too. One word of caution, make sure they are only handling organic or non-toxic materials. You may be surprised at the number of products you use that specifically mention keeping away from kids right on the package.
- Water plants with the hose or watering can
- Fill pets water bowl (use caution when pets are nearby)
- Pick up yard toys
- Pull weeds
- Pick up rocks and sticks
- Plant seeds or seedlings
- Spread grass seed (organic / non-toxic)
- Spread mulch (organic / non-toxic)
- Rake up leaves (get these fun pumpkin bags!)
- Shovel snow
- Spread kid and pet safe ice melt in the winter (like this kind)
- Remove shoes when they come in (and put in designated spot)
- Hang up jacket or coat on a designated hook (put it at their level!)
- Put on their own hat and mittens
In The Car
- Pick up toys they bring in the car
- Clean up any food or snack wrappers
- Help brush snow off the car
- Help vacuum out the car
- Wipe down dashboard and steering wheel
- Buckle the top buckle of their 5-point harness