CC’s preschool teacher told me at our last parent teacher conference that I should try to assign him some jobs that he can do around the house. My first thought was, “What kind of job can a 3 year old do?” All his attempts to “help” me in the past haven’t exactly been that helpful and would usually result in me cleaning up some mess or other. But for the sake of his development, the teacher told me that it would be good for him to feel useful and be given some responsibilities.
So now I look for every opportunity to put my toddler to work and I’ve discovered that 3 year olds can actually do a lot! I’ve been underestimating my son all along. Of course, I’ve also learned it’s important to not give him jobs that are too challenging because it usually leads to frustration and CC tends to deal with frustration by throwing things and screaming. But amazingly, he’s proved that he can do a lot of things which are actually helpful to me in the running of our little household.
In case you have a 3 year old at home you can employ too, here are some jobs I’ve found that are good for preschoolers:
- Dressing himself – he doesn’t do it everyday, but some days CC likes to be able to pick out his own clothes and put them on himself. Just make sure you give your child plenty of time (not 10 minutes before you need to leave for school). And as long as it’s weather appropriate, you have to be okay with his/her fashion choices (even if it is a red wool sweater vest over a fireman T-shirt).
- Helping out in the kitchen – instead of plopping your child in front of a video so you can cook dinner, try involving your child in the cooking process. When CC was little I used to put him in his high chair and have him watch while I pretended to be hosting my very own cooking show. Now I try to find little things he can do to help to keep him occupied. Here are some things my little sous chef is getting really good at (they’re also great for developing fine motor skills):
- Cleaning – arm your kid with a rag, small dustpan and broom, or a feather duster and let them go crazy!
- Gardening – what kid doesn’t like to play with dirt? Enough said.
- Community service – every Saturday morning our church has a cleaning/service time where we come together to clean the meeting hall followed by a delicious brunch together. CC loves this time. He usually likes to help out with the gardening, but I think I’ve finally found the perfect job for both of us. We go around and pick up the trash on the sidewalks around the meeting hall. CC loves to use the special trash picker upper and has become quite adept at it even though it’s almost as tall as he is. We always get a lot of smiles from people passing by.