How to Get Your Child to Become Mommy’s Little Helper

Get them to help. Encourage children from an early age to get into the habit of being mommy’s little helper.

Read our top tips on how to encourage your children to become mommy’s little helper and learn and have fun at the same time.

Start Them Young

Young children see cleaning and tidying as a game. There are even ‘tidy up’ songs that you can sing. Find one that won’t make you grind your teeth each time you hear it and go with it!

Put Labels or Pictures on Shelves and Boxes

This is an educational matching game in itself, as items with corresponding labels or pictures are put back where they belong.

Be Specific

“Tidy your room” is a tall and vague order for young children. Give exact instructions that will be easier to comprehend, such as “Put your books on the shelf, pack your blocks into the red box and make your bed.”

Make Sure Your Child is Physically Able to do What is Asked

You can’t expect them to embrace becoming mommy’s little helper if the shelves  are too high and lids are too heavy. This makes it hard for children to carry out certain tasks. As result, they will quickly lose motivation.

Confiscate At Will

If children have been given a clear instruction and a fair chance to put items away and haven’t, remove these items for a while to reaffirm what is expected of them.

Use a Chore Chart Properly

If you choose to use a chore chart, keep it where the whole family can see it. Make sure to update it regularly. Rotate chores to avoid civil unrest at home, as a result of one child being landed with cleaning the rabbit hatch while the other is in charge of watering the roses.

Ask for Help Politely

Your child is far more likely to respond to a polite request than a barked instruction. Most importantly, you are setting a good example by asking nicely.

Offer Rewards and Incentives

Give small rewards for completing a list of chores to the level you expect and without complaint. It could be something as small as a chocolate or a pocket money bonus. This way, your child will learn that there are benefits to being mommy’s little helper.

Be Consistent

Being mommy’s little helper doesn’t mean negotiation. Tasks are not negotiable, so wails of “I’ll do this later” should fall on your deaf ears. If you have threatened to withdraw a privilege as punishment, then do so. If you don’t maintain consistency, your children will soon lose motivation and respect for the tasks expected of them.

Tasks Suitable for Each Age Group

Ages 2–3
  • Help make their own bed
  • Assist in feeding family pets
  • Help wipe up non-harmful messes and spills
  • Pack away their toys
  • Put their dirty clothes into the laundry basket
  • Help to mop and sweep

Toddlers are enthusiastic and see helping as a game. This is when the groundwork is done, so it is important to keep tasks exciting by offering plenty of encouragement.

Ages 4–5
  • Dress themselves
  • Help lay and clear the table
  • Assist with dusting and vacuuming with help and guidance from mom
  • Help carry and pack away groceries that are not heavy or fragile
  • Water plants under instruction
  • Have a more active role in looking after pets, for example, cleaning out the cages
  • Assist with basic meal preparation under supervision

Preschoolers relish discovering new things and enjoy time you spend teaching them how to perform new tasks. Rewards such as pocket money or sticker charts teach them to work towards something and offer further motivation.

Ages 6–8
  • Sweep and mop the floor
  • Prepare their school lunch
  • Make their bed
  • Polish their shoes
  • Wash, dry and pack away dishes
  • Load and unload the dishwasher
  • Help with meal preparation
  • Rake up leaves

Although some of their previous enthusiasm for chores may have waned, this age group has a strong desire to be more independent. Empower them. Make them solely responsible for certain tasks and reward them according to the outcome.

Ages 9–11
  • Wash the car
  • Prepare basic meals
  • Bath the dog
  • Load and operate the washing machine
  • Do simple painting jobs under supervision
  • Organise and maintain their cupboards and drawers
  • Take out the rubbish
  • Fold and put away laundry

Pre-teen children are capable of coping with an increase in responsibility. It is a good time to factor in consequences for chores not completed properly or rewarding those that are.

12 years and above
  • Mow the lawn
  • Iron clothes
  • Wash windows, mirrors and floors
  • Clean the bathroom
  • Shop for groceries
  • Prepare family meals
  • Play host to guests
  • Babysit younger siblings for short periods of time

At this age, children should have an understanding of consequences for their actions. Continuity offers more stability and they are able to make helpful suggestions as to how to run the household more effectively.

Sasha Cuff

Find more age-appropriate chores here.