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Why My Three-Year-Old Makes Her Bed: Teaching Life Skills with Chores

A few weeks ago, as I was flipping through a parenting magazine, I stumbled across an article entitled “How To Raise A Can-Do Kid.” This concept isn’t lost on me; it’s quite the opposite, in fact. My time as an educator in an upper elementary classroom reminded me of just how important articles like this are.

“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.” – Ann Landers

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As parents, we place so much of our child’s success on academic and athletic achievement, that many of us have neglected to teach basic life skills. It’s not just my own teaching experiences that have lead me to this conclusion, but also the stories of others.

My husband loves to recount the laundry room tales from his college days. With the start of each new year came a fresh batch of students, students who had never done their own laundry. My husband watched in amazement as many of these high-achieving students messed up load after load of their own clothing.

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In a society where academic success has become top priority, we have allowed the basic education of life skills to go unnoticed. A wise woman recently told me there are two types of parents: those who raise their children to keep them and those who raise them to step out into the world. I found this small token of advice to be inspiring. It made me take a step back and take a good look at my motherhood journey. What did I envision for myself as a mother? What did I envision for my children?

I want my child and future children to feel comfortable in their own skin, to be aware of their surroundings, trust their instincts, and not be afraid or ill-prepared to step out into the world. 

Which brought me to my next question: How did I plan to achieve this?

The short answer: life skills. It’s not just about life skills, it’s about teaching responsibility and accountability, which go hand in hand with academic achievement. I want all of my children to be well-rounded; I think that’s what we strive for as parents. When I send each of my children off to college, I want to be sure that I am confident in their ability to live life as an adult.

I want to raise my child to become an adult.

So, I came up with a list of age appropriate chores she could do around the house. I am not looking for perfection, I am looking for effort.

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Age-appropriate Chores for three-year-olds:

Toys – 

Having children clean up their own toys each day is the perfect place to start!

Make Your Own Bed

For us, this has been a tough one. Once we transitioned her to a big girl bed, we immediately taught her how to make her own bed. She has to make it every morning and after nap. She can do it on her own, but it’s not her favorite chore.

Clean the Bathroom –

Toddlers love to help in certain areas. For our daughter, it’s the bathroom! Initially I would send her away, because I felt it was just easier to do it myself. In truth, I found it’s much easier to let her help. I give her a wet paper towel to wipe the counter and sinks, while I scrub the tub or floors. Her favorite part is using the toilet brush. (Who would have thought?!) She “helps” me clean the bathroom for 20 minutes every Thursday, wiping her potty, the counters, and the big potty. I thank her for a job well done and send her on her merry way. Then I can finish giving the bathroom a thorough cleaning.

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Laundry – 

Once a week we have our toddler help us put laundry in the dryer.

Overall, toddlers love to be praised and feel successful! A phrase we hear our daughter say a lot is, “I do it myself!” We want to foster her “can-do” attitude. Therefore, we will continue to make academic success and life skills of equal importance within our home, so that one day, she can step out into the world and become a successful, productive member of society.

 


 

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