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Letting Little Ones Be Helpers
At 22 months of age, my daughter has become such a little person. She has her own opinions on everything and is constantly trying to exercise her independence. This can be challenging in many ways (i.e. tantrums and power struggles), but it can also be really great in many ways (i.e. sharing her feelings and doing things for herself). Once thing it has meant for us is that she LOVES being a helper.
Anytime I’m working on a task, she wants to join in and help. This can definitely make things take a little bit longer at times, but I’m learning to embrace this stage and let her be my little helper in as many ways as possible.
Here are a few tasks that I’ve found to be developmentally appropriate for Fern and that she really enjoys doing:
Fern has a little broom that I keep in the broom closet, and whenever she sees me take out the broom to sweep, she runs to grab hers and “help out.” This is one task that actually isn’t particularly helpful, since often she is trying to sweep up the pile I’ve already made and making a mess of it, but it’s really sweet to see her so excited about it, so I let her do it. As she gets older, I’ll be able to teach her more technique, but for now, just the act of sweeping is good practice.
There are many things that my child cannot help with when it comes to dinner prep, but I try my hardest to include her in the things that she can. The main photo is of her helping me snap green beans for dinner the other night, and she absolutely loved it. It took longer than if I were to do it myself, but it was worth it, because instead of having her hanging from my leg, whining while I was trying to cook, I included her and we were both much happier for it. I also let her help with pouring and stirring whenever possible.
When she spills something, or colors something, or when there is a small mess on the floor I let my daughter clean it up. If it’s something that actually requires real scrubbing and sanitizing I clean it up myself, but having her wipe up her own messes really teaches her responsibility. She recently found a love for coloring all over things when I’m not looking for a second, and she has quickly learned that when you color on something you have to clean it up. I just spray a little vinegar water on the area and give her a paper towel and I’m always impressed by how well she does at scrubbing up the messes. Side note: washable crayons are totally invaluable.
*Emptying the Dishwasher
Obviously there are certain items in the dishwasher that aren’t great for a toddler to be carrying, but plastic cups, food storage and utensils (the not-so-sharp variety) are all fair game. I hand her an item to put away and she walks it over to where it goes. If it’s on a too-high shelf, she’ll hand it to me to put away from there. It’s more work, but it’s more about the routine of it, and she feels so proud of herself when she gets to help.
*Bringing me things
When I’m in a rush trying to get us out the door some mornings, making a lunch to pack along or grabbing more diapers, I’ll recruit her to help out by bringing me things. I’ll ask her to bring me my purse, or two diapers or other such items, and she will. She really enjoys following directions when it’s something fun and it feels a bit like a game to her.
We have 16 chickens and we collect their eggs daily. Fern likes to go out to the coop and help me collect. She’ll grab the eggs and place them in the carton and we count as we go. It’s a fun way for her to be involved in seeing where our food comes from and also developmental practice of counting and having a job.
Now I’d love to know what ways you let your little one be a helper? Do you let your child help with any of these tasks, or are there others that they particularly enjoy? I’m always on the lookout for new ideas to let Fern be a helper, so I’d love to hear!