Check out these 12 things your 2-year-old should do on their own as often as possible. Toddlers are constantly pushing for independence and autonomy, and even when they’re not quite ready to handle certain tasks by themselves 100%, now’s the time to start giving them more freedom to explore and perform daily chores.
First of all, let me be clear and say that your toddler should be experimenting and learning to do these things on their own. In no way should they be experts at any of these tasks. I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust my toddler to do much of anything by himself 100%.
Sure, he can put on his own shoes, and I encourage him to do it! But, they’re usually on the wrong feet, with part of the heel still sticking out a little bit.
He’s able to “brush his own teeth,” but there’s no way I’d leave that task completely up to him. We’d be drowning in dentist bills already.
Here are the top 12 things I believe you should encourage your toddler to do on their own as often as you can, as it builds independence, which they desperately crave at this age. Ultimately, it’s not black and white. There are no set of rules or tasks that you need to write down and remember to let your 2-year-old complete on a daily basis to be a good mom.
The key is to simply let your toddler try new things within reason. We can’t always let them put on their own shoes, because sometimes we’ll be in a hurry. But every time you find yourself in a position where your 2-year-old wants to get involved and help, I say let them! It helps them learn life skills and build confidence!
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12 Things Your 2-Year-Old Should Do on Their Own
1. Clean Their Spills
Your toddler should be learning the basics of cleaning up after themselves, and that includes wiping up small spills and messes. For whatever reason, I find it easier to get my son to wipe up his own spills vs. getting him to clean up his toys.
I push for both, because they’re equally important parts of keeping a clean home, but cleaning up spills is a specific one that I encourage you to enforce.
Plus, something about a toddler wiping up spilled milk with a rag is just so damn cute.
2. Help With Cooking
Ahh yes, cooking. My least favorite part of the day. For the longest time my son was a nightmare whenever I tried to cook. He had no interest in watching tv, playing independently, or reading. He only wanted to help Mommy prepare dinner.
A little after he turned 2, I figured, ‘what the heck?’
I pulled up a step stool, brought out a little Montessori-style safety knife, and let him help me prep dinner!
Guess what? He. Loved. It.
I highly recommend allowing your 2-year-old to assist with making dinner. They love getting involved and mimicking us!
3. Take Dishes To The Sink
There is one major downside to teaching your 2-year-old to take their own dishes to the sink: they’ll want to take every dish, all the time. The glass of water you’re currently drinking? The bowl you forgot on the coffee table? Yeah, they’re going to get swiped the moment you look away.
On the plus side, you’ll get in the habit of consistently taking your own dishes to the sink!
Whether you have a step stool at your kitchen sink or not, your 2-year-old should be able to reach up and drop their sippy cups and plastic bowls into the sink. It’s actually one of the most helpful things my son does. Well, when he remembers it’s dishes in the sink and trash in the trash can, and not the other way around.
4. Feed Themselves
Maybe I’m just a lazy mom, but I let my son start feeding himself as soon as he started trying. Please, by all means, feed yourself! Sure, I’ll have a huge mess to clean after, but it’s worth it most of the time.
Surprisingly though, many moms still find themselves feeding their toddlers, especially when it comes to messier meals like yogurt or spaghetti. I understand, even if I don’t do it myself! It’s a bonding experience, they’re only small for so long, and it saves you a huge mess afterwards.
But it’s an important part of their development! They’re working on their fine motor skills. Even when they do nothing but smash their dinner all over their high chair, they’re exploring different textures, cause and effect, and more!
5. Wash Their Hands
Your toddler isn’t going to be great at washing their hands, but they should at least be going through the motions on their own. And of course, every child develops at their own pace, but they should understand what you mean when you tell them to “go wash their hands” at some point between 2 and 3 years old.
Now’s a great time to build good habits, especially when it comes to hygiene!
6. Pick Up Their Toys
This is one of the many reasons I swear by organizing your toddler’s toys into small plastic storage bins. Or, at the very least, have them organized into a toy chest or drawers or something.
There needs to be a clear spot for everything, so your toddler knows how and where to put things when they’re done playing with them. No matter what your setup looks like, your 2-year-old is more than capable of picking up after themselves, and starting this early is going to be oh-so worth it.
7. Putting Away Groceries
This is 100% a task that your toddler can “help” you with, not something they should do on their own. Your toddler likely can’t even lift a jug of milk, after all.
Sure, we could unload the car and put away all of the groceries faster if our kids stayed out of the way. But it’s important to let our toddlers get involved in daily chores.
8. Put Dishes Away
When the dishwasher is done with its cycle, let your 2-year-old help you unload it! Usually I grab all of the knives and breakable plates from the bottom rack before my son comes over, so I don’t have to keep as close of an eye on what he puts away. His favorite is the silverware!
Nothing is ever put away in the right spot, but it’s adorable, and honestly, better than nothing! Who cares, as long as the dishwasher is empty for the next load, and the dishes are put away… somewhere.
9. Getting Dressed
This one actually didn’t cross my mind. It was my husband’s idea to start allowing our son to dress himself more and more. I’m not sure why I didn’t think about it. Probably because it’s such a hassle, honestly.
He gets extremely frustrated super fast, and I can’t help but want to finish the job for him before things get out of hand. Thankfully, my husband is really great about being patient through the tantrum, and it’s always worth it to see how proud my son is after he successfully gets his arms in his shirt all by himself!
So, if you’re like me and you think your 2-year-old isn’t ready to dress themselves because they get frustrated quickly, give it a try!
10. Picking Their Own Outfits
Another thing you should let your 2-year-old do on their own is pick out their outfits. I’ve given this one a try time and time again, and my son doesn’t seem to care what he wears at all yet. But there are many 2-year-olds who are thrilled at the prospect of picking out their own clothes!
11. Throwing Trash Away
This is my favorite chore that my son does on his own. He keeps the living room so tidy! Any time he finds a scrap of paper on the floor, or a bit of trash in his play area, he immediately runs it to the garbage can. It’s great!
Of course you’ll have to check for items that aren’t meant to be thrown away every so often, but it’s worth it.
12. Brushing Their Teeth
No, they won’t be good at brushing their own teeth, but your 2-year-old should at least be interested enough to mimic the act. If your toddler is anything like mine, teeth brushing time is a nightmare. You absolutely will have to brush them yourself afterwards, but giving them the freedom to do it on their own at the beginning is a great way to get them in the habit of doing it every night.
Besides, they’ll feel more in control of the situation, and over time it’ll make your job easier!
Which every day tasks do you encourage your toddler to do on their own? Are there any that haven’t crossed your mind? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you!
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