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It’s a dream come true when your toddler or preschooler cleans up their room without much fuss. The truth is though, without knowledge and tools to do so chances are high it becomes more of a fight.
While my preschooler doesn’t clean his room on command yet, he does clean up his toys and has supervised chores around the house. Everyday, through working with his natural mimicking behavior, we get closer to a child who happily puts his toys away.
Toddlers Like To Mimic
Toddlers will mimic everything you do in order to learn new things. They believe they can do all the same things you do. This is a good thing, here’s why.
Toddlers should be doing a lot of the same things that you do because this is how they learn. If you nurture this behavior for now, while it lasts, they will build natural habits. These habits, such as cleaning, will have a big impact on their lives.
They mimic a potty routine including washing hands, they mimic sweeping, dusting, vacuuming, and they mimic even your cooking. Our toddlers are watching us very closely. They learn through doing what we do.
Later in life they will know how to vacuum, dust, wash dishes, load a dishwasher. They will know how to cook and care for animals. These are important tasks that when started at a young age will stick with them into adulthood.
Use Mimicking To Your Advantage
You want to use this behavior to your advantage. Not in the aspect of once they mimic you they will then take over all the house chores. What I mean by using mimicking to your advantage is giving your toddlers to ability to learn they have to pick up their stuff too.
For instance, my toddler used to run at the sight of our Shark Vacuum coming out of the closet. He would cover his ears and watch as the loud machine ran from our hardwood floors to carpeted floors, sucking up everything in its path.
When he received his Dyson Toy Vacuum for Christmas last year this behavior stopped. Instead he grabs his toy vacuum and vacuums along with me. The vacuum is his size, actually has suction power, and has a real vacuum noise.
This small toy helped to teach L not to be afraid of the vacuum but how to use it instead. He’s become helpful during the weekly chores because we turned his mimicking behavior into an advantage through the use of toys.
Everyday Recruit Your Toddler To Help
Everyday as you clean something recruit your toddler to help. Be it giving them an extra rag to help dust furniture. Letting them help in washing the floor. Getting toys like the Dyson Toy Vacuum or this Melissa and Doug cleaning set help greatly when it comes to teaching your toddler or preschooler how to clean.
Spending a little bit of time everyday, or assigning cleaning tasks for your toddler, can help encourage them to take action on their own as they get older.
For instance, L has a couple of jobs. He needs to clean up his own toys and put them away. My son also is in charge of putting the soap in the dishwasher. He is also in charge of starting the washing machine when I load it with clothes.
This has lead to a preschooler that helps unload the dishwasher, helps fold clothes, and gets excited to clean up. While I hope this lasts I also understand that in teenage years there will probably need to be a more convincing factor.
For now we are just happy that he is happy to help and is learning how to do these things. We never have to worry about the dreaded “I don’t know how,” whine that escapes teenage mouths.
It Will Take Longer For Now
Every cleaning task you have will absolutely take longer as you include your toddler. The length of time it takes to clean will eventually get back to normal as they get better and better though.
The key here is to be patient and make sure you lower your expectations on how quickly you can clean your house. This way you are focused on offering praises to your toddler as they complete the tasks they are assigned.
This is also a great time to work on speech and other fine motor skills. You can teach them about safe products, the correct rags to use, colors, actions, and all sorts of different words.
As they grow more comfortable with a task make sure you add new challenges too. This will help them to grow their confidence and feel challenged. Never let cleaning become boring for them at this stage because it will halt their desire to help.
It’s totally ok to do treats or fun activities after cleaning to reward both yourself and your child. This is a great way to teach about responsibility too.
The Hopeful Result Is A Child That Does Their Chores
By teaching your toddler to mimic you, using toys their own size, and giving them “grown up” chores, your toddler will grow into a preschooler and child who completes their chores. As they reach pre-teen and teenage years they may have the chores down to a science.
This means they may actually spend less time complaining about the chores they have to do and get them done quickly so they can return to whatever fun thing they do. Teach them while they are young and you will give them a lifetime of skills to use.
Does your toddler help out around the house and mimic you? Let me know in the comments below. Follow me on Pinterest for more like this and pin this to your Parenting Advice boards.
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