Getting Your Toddler to Help You
Raising a toddler is the hardest work you’ll ever love. Raising a toddler as a single parent requires an even greater dose of endurance. It’s important to raise children who can take responsibility for their choices and the impact those choices have on others.
But how in the world do you do that and still keep your own sanity? It’s not for the faint of heart, but there are a few tips that you can practice working into your parenting efforts. Just remember, parenting requires a lot of grace–for your kids, but mostly for YOURSELF.
WE CLEAN IT UP
Many single moms feel like they can’t keep up with all of the clutter that a toddler makes. Mealtimes, playtime, bath time, and even bedtime all come with their own set of unique messes. With no one else to share the burden, this can be overwhelming.
But wait! There is someone who can share the burden. Your toddler can!
Encourage her to help by doing what you’re doing. With a cheerful voice, kindly say something like, “We always clean up our own things.” Then hand her the shoes she left scattered in your path and help her put them where they belong.
Once you believe she understands the expectations, you can change your phrasing to a question. “Before we go to bed, what do we need to do?” The answer is, “Put away our toys.” The goal is to have your child own the responsibility. If it’s her idea, it’s always better.
PRAISE THE GOOD
Everyone loves to know that they are contributing to the common good of something bigger than themselves. When your son is kind to his little brother, make sure you let him know that you have noticed. If your daughter’s singing warms your heart, let her know. Whatever behaviors you acknowledge will grow.
SLOW AND STEADY
As your child gets older, increase their responsibilities appropriately, both within and outside of the household. Kids need to grow in two kinds of responsibilities: their own self care and contributing to the family.
It’s always best to work together on a “chore” until they see that job as a regular part of the family routine. Toddlers want desperately to master their physical worlds, and when we support them to do that, they step into the responsibility of being “response-able.” Your goal isn’t simply getting the job done, it’s shaping your child into someone who takes pleasure in contributing to the betterment of the family.
FIND THE JOY
Remind yourself that there is joy in these tasks, and communicate that to your son or daughter, along with the satisfaction of a job well done. Look for the joy in everything. It may take longer to pack a lunch together, but the bonding that happens over shared tasks is valuable. Don’t miss the moment or wish it away. That’s easier said than done, but it’s worth it to remind yourself.
There is are many more tips we could give, but start with these and see how they go!
DO IT YOURSELF
What are age appropriate responsibilities for your child? List them and consider which ones you want to work on together first.
Leave a comment below and share successes you’ve had with getting your child to take responsibility. We’d love to hear your ideas!