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Anyone who has a 2-year-old is probably familiar with their fierce desire for independence. Even though it is often easier and quicker to do things for your toddler, it really is worth the time and patience to let them try tasks on their own. They may surprise you with their abilities, and their sense of pride from doing something without your help will be rewarding for both of you! Plus, as a mom of older kids too, I can tell you that teaching your kids to do things for themselves is an essential part of raising a larger-than-average family.
These are simple, common jobs that arise in a two-year-old’s daily routine. But to your two-year-old, these tasks are important opportunities to become more in control of himself or herself. This helps your child feel proud and confident that they can contribute to the progress of their own day. You are giving him or her some independence rather than your child having to battle you for it. And I don’t know about you, but this mommy doesn’t want any battles.
Things to Let Your 2-Year-Old
Do On His Own (or with just a little help!)
- Peel a clementine. You will probably need to start it for him. This is a really great fine motor activity!
- Peel a banana.
- Clear his dishes from the table after eating.
- Comb his hair.
- Put on his shoes. Slip-ons like Crocs are great. Don’t sweat it if they’re on the wrong feet.
- Put on his own underwear and pants. At this stage, pull-on elastic waistbands on pants make this easier.
- Buckle himself in his booster seat/high chair at mealtimes.
- Get on and off the potty. Use a stepstool if necessary. Lately, if I put Little O on the potty, he will usually climb off and then climb back on just so he can do it himself.
- Brush his teeth (after you have your turn first to get all the “sugarbugs” off)
- Put his toys away. It helps if you put picture labels on containers to help him learn what goes where.
- Wash his own hands. If there’s a risk of the water getting too hot, you can turn the hot water supply off under the sink he uses.
- Feed the dog/pet. Get a scooper and teach him how many scoops he needs to put in the bowl. It’s great counting practice!
- Carry the mail from the mailbox to inside. Watchfully accompanied, of course.
- Wipe up spills.
- Zip zippers on jackets, pajamas, etc.
- Pick out own cups and bowls. I like to have a low drawer in the kitchen where I keep all the kid dishes, so they can reach and choose their own.
- Drink from a cup without a lid. Bonus: Creating the lower lip seal is a good oral motor skill to be working on at this age.
- Carry his own snacks/water/activities on outings. An extra-small backpack or bag is perfect for this.
- Put some of his own laundry away. At our house, we keep the potty-training underwear in a low drawer in the bathroom so he can pick it out himself. He loves putting the freshly washed ones in the drawer on his own. Matching socks is great same/different practice.
- Make his bed. Teach him to pull his blanket up when he’s not in bed and let him arrange any stuffed animals and his pillow.
A two-year-old’s constant battle for independence makes for a challenging phase of parenting, at least it does for me! When you can step back, recognize it, and give your little guy or gal jobs to do and let them handle some things without your help, it will make for a smoother, more cooperative day with fewer meltdowns (from both of you 😉). And at the same time, you will be building toward the ultimate goal of helping your child become a confident and capable individual.