Helpful Toddler Really Does Help

For a while now, whenever I’ve referred to Norton as a helpful toddler, it’s been with air quotes and meant in the loosest sense possible…  Such as my “helpful” toddler decided to throw my silverware on the floor.  But recently, Norton has managed to truly be a helpful toddler from time to time.

I’ve struggled with getting Norton to help with cleaning up his room in the past.  In fact, there were times that my cleaning up his room got me the most unpleasant response of having toddler toys scattered faster than I could pick them up.  I’m not sure what inspired this change, but I’m loving it.

Helpful toddler vacuums

Norton can be helpful! (And use appliances.)

Norton has been a truly helpful toddler lately.  He often throws his granola wrappers in the trash on his own.  He’ll help with removing the wrapper from his string cheese and throw it out, too.  But the biggest and most amazing change has happened in the form of cleaning his room.

I no longer have to cope with a little boy dumping out toy bins as I try to fill them.  I don’t throw my hands up in frustration while trying to tidy. Instead, I get some contribution to the process… as long as I give direction and celebrate toddler success.  Generally, I’ll ask Norton to put his wooden blocks in the appropriate bucket.  Every time he throws a block in, I tell him “thank you” or “good job!”  Or, you know, some other awesome praise feedback that lets him know that he’s doing a good job with helping with the clean up.  (Sometimes he’ll also stop to point out letters or numbers on the blocks, which is just awesome.)

Now he’s becoming self praising.  When he tosses a block in, he says “yay!” or “guh-jaw.”  (That’s Norton’s toddler talk for “good job.”)  I love it.

He’s also decided that he loves to vacuum.  I often bring in the vacuum to his room after we’re done with the clean up to to a quick vacuum (since he’s got a cream coloured carpet, I have to vacuum his room two or three times a week).  Instead of doing the typical toddler “run and hide from the vacuum cleaner” thing, he runs up and takes it away.  He hasn’t started to verbalize anything like “me do” or whatever, but he does get quite frustrated if I try to take the vacuum back.  He’ll do it himself until the Dyson vacuum handle is nearly on the floor.

Could I finish cleaning up Norton’s room faster if I did it myself?  Probably.  But he wouldn’t learn anything if I did.

How do you get  your toddler to help with clean up?

About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.


  1. It’s so fun when they want to help!

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