What to Teach Toddlers At Home | Practical Life Skills to Teach Your Toddler

If you are searching for advice on what to teach your toddlers at home to make your life easier, you’re in the right place! 

This list includes all the things that I’m so glad we started teaching our toddler early-on, even before she could talk. 

These make me smile on a daily basis, and are what I believe add a healthy challenge for toddlers, stimulate brain development, and make them more in tune with others and themselves.

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Now, let’s get into what to teach toddlers at home: 

What to teach toddlers at home:

1. How to help with chores

Now, hear me out on this one. This one changed our daily routine, made me feel less alone in doing the household chores, and helped teach some life skills early on in my toddler’s life. 

Some moms do all the chores while their little ones are sleeping, (which I admit, would be faster) but I’m here to say that you can spend quality time with them AND do chores at the same time. 

You can make this fun for your toddler, and fun for you too. 

Toddlers have a natural interest in what is going on around them, and what their parents are doing, so I say let them be a part of your every day processGet them excited about what you are doing!

It’s meaningful for them, and although it will take a little more time for you to complete the tasks, you can make it both educational quality time with them, and you can stay on top of your chores so you can relax later. 

  • Laundry– Have them take clothes out of the dryer and put them in the clothes bin. They can help sort, fold, and put away. You can make it an educational experience and ask them to name the article of clothing, identify colors, match like-objects, and help find where they go.  It is both learning and fun. 
  • Sweep– Our toddler has a little broom set that she loves to sweep with. She doesn’t really “help” at all, in fact she kind of messes up the dirt pile, but she loves to participate in what I’m doing and she gets a little better each time.
  • Dust– I just give my toddler a dish towel or rag and we wipe down surfaces together. I make this an opportunity to learn new words and talk about what we are dusting. You can say whether the surface is shiny, hard, soft, etc. You can have your child dust all the blue objects in the room. Again, make it fun!
  • Wipe up spills– This one is actually very helpful because when she makes a spill she will now actively seek out a towel and wipe it up, unprompted!
  • Put away dishes– We have our toddler in charge of putting away silverware, because almost all of the other dishes go in upper cabinets out of her reach. I take the knives out of the silverware baskets from the dishwasher first, and then she takes the baskets over to the silverware drawer and puts them away in the correct spots. It’s a sorting game for her. She also has a drawer with all of her plastic cups, bowls, etc. and she helps put away her dishes too.
  • Tidy up their space–  This is important because when my toddler has a clean play space, she can play with one toy longer and gets distracted less by other toys which helps her attention span. We like to sing “clean up pick up put away”, a song from her favorite TV show, Daniel Tiger (which I highly recommend as an educational kids show.)
 Again, you want to make this fun for them, educational if possible, and still productive for you. 

2. How to do Self-Care Tasks:

The sooner you start teaching your toddler how to help take care of themselves, the quicker they will gain confidence and skill, and start to become independent (with supervision, of course). Obviously, they will not learn before they’re developmentally ready, but you can help them practice, and get it established it as part of their daily routine.

This is beneficial for both you and them!

Teach your toddler how to:

  1. Put on clothes- Let them pick out their clothes and participate with this! You can teach them colors, designs, identify what’s on their shirt, etc. Remember to stay present with them while doing this.
  2. Brush teeth– (We started with this as soon as she had teeth.) Now, she is not averse to having a toothbrush in her mouth, and she is getting pretty good at brushing them herself. We started as a baby with this baby toothbrush, and moved up to the one she uses now
  3. Comb hair– Having a toddler girl with longer hair, we have lots of tangles to deal with on a daily basis. Making sure we do this daily is a MUST for her. Now she even reminds us to brush her hair. Her hair texture is so easily tangled (just like mine), so I use a Wet Brush on her. The bristles are more flexible than normal brushes, which tugs at the hair less as you brush, while still detangling. Highly recommend.
  4. Wash hands- Again, this may seem obvious, but I can’t leave it out! We make it fun, sing a song, and make sure she knows how to scrub in between her fingers.
Your toddler is not going to be able to do these things without help until they’re older. My toddler (she’s 2 years, 4 months now) still needs help with everything on this list, which is completely developmentally appropriate. As your toddler becomes a little more independent, it is easier on them, (they will get frustrated less easily), and easier on you (you can pack the car while they’re getting their shoes on, etc.)

3. The Concept of Time/Sequence of Events

Provide a warning before an activity starts or ends: 

Toddlers do not have a great concept of time, so I always give a 2 minute warning. You can choose whichever length of time you want, but I recommend being consistent with it. We have little sand timers that we use to show how long 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes is! It helps provide a frame of reference for my toddler. 

We use the timers when it is time to stop playing, or we are going to transition in some way. This helps her to know something is going to be done soon or start soon. 

Explaining the sequence of events can help your toddler start to understand them, which can be helpful in so many ways. 

Repeat the sequence of events (routine): 

I like to tell my toddler the next few things we will be doing, and keep repeating this to her as we do them. I even repeat what we just did. 

For example I will say: “We just ate breakfast! Now that we are done, we will put our dishes in the dishwasher and clean up. Then we can go play.” I continue that throughout the whole day. Next I would say “Okay now that we are done cleaning up after breakfast, we can go play.” 

I find that this not only keeps her informed, it helps set up an expectation for the next activity, and less likely to get upset when we are transitioning.  


4. What Gratitude Is

Expressing appreciation is not only a social skill that can get them very far in life, but focusing on gratitude can change one’s entire outlook and perspective. 

Before each family meal, we have started to sit down and say what we are thankful for. (It is just like praying, really.) Before my toddler’s bedtime, we close the books, turn out the light, and say all the things we are thankful for that happened that day. My toddler likes to chime in too now! It’s really so sweet.

I believe people (including myself) take the simple things for granted. And teaching this early in life can help solidify it as part of their mental process. 

We also have taught her how to say please and thank you. This verbal appreciation melts my heart when she says it. 

This is another example of what to teach toddlers at home. You don’t need any special tools or knowledge to do this!

5. How to Adopt Healthy Habits

This doesn’t mean you need to be a marathon-runner or a triathlete, or only eat organic food, and make all your food  from scratch. Small improvements can make big changes in your health and happiness, and your toddler will start to pick up on this behavior. This could be: 

  •  Getting outside more-take walks, go to the park, or play in the backyard.
  • Eat to nourish the body-try to have fruits and vegetables at every meal, make more meals at home, and eat less processed foods. 
  • Put away the phones-Children know when you’re not paying attention. My toddler has said to me “no phone mommy!” and it really has opened my eyes to how it really takes my mind off the present moment.
  • Being kind to yourself– Progress, not perfection people! If you show yourself some grace when you make a mistake, maybe your toddler will start to do this too.

By taking care of yourself and your family and modeling healthy behaviors, your toddler will start learning at an early age how to do it too. (And they will directly benefit from these behaviors, now.)

6. How to Express Needs With Words.

Ever hear your toddler start whining out of nowhere? Or even start to cry and you don’t know why? 

At least in our household 9 times out of 10 if I ask my toddler to use her words to ask for what she wants, we can figure out together how to solve the problem. If she can’t express herself, we search for words together. This has been completely groundbreaking for us in avoiding full-blown, fall-to-the-ground tantrums. 

If you’re struggling with tantrums and want to learn more about them, read my post here. (Another one of those things you should teach your toddler at home.) 

Other tips are to use baby sign language with them. Even when my toddler was struggling with her words, we worked with her on just a few signs and it really helped her communication skills. The book we used to learn some baby sign language was this one

7. How to Have Patience

Waiting is a skill that even most adults have not mastered.  In this era of online instant gratification, it is something that must be practiced. But teaching this at an early age can be important in making your toddler’s life, and your life just a little bit easier. 

It is a pattern that repeats itself in many day-to-day activities, whether it’s waiting in line at a store, waiting their turn to play with a toy, waiting for the bathtub to fill up, or waiting to cross the street with an adult, there are many useful applications to waiting

Toddlers themselves will have a difficult time waiting, due to their lack of concept of time (see above for help with this). 

Here are some ideas of how to teach a toddler how to wait:

  •  Explain what waiting is and why we are doing it. I find the more they understand the situation the easier it is to wait.  Reinforcing this in different situations will help.
  • Teach them to entertain themselves during the waiting. They can sing, play, imagine or observe.  

Demonstrating how to play quietly while waiting, read a book or entertaining themself can go a long way. Soon enough they will be able to identify that they are waiting, and will hopefully be less frustrated and more aware of what to do while waiting. 

8. How to Talk About Feelings 

I love this one because I learned about emotional language later in life (like late 20’s), and ever since then I’ve been able to better understand my emotional experience, and has benefited me in so many ways. This is also another great idea of something you should teach your toddler at home. 

I am so proud of my toddler when she says what she is feeling now. She started to do this because we talk a lot about feelings

We even have a game now that she came up with. She says “I am so mad!” She crosses her arms across her chest and scrunches up to make her best “grumpy” face (with a little smile cracking in the corners of her mouth) and then I offer her a toy or a hug and she says “I’m so happy now. I feel much better!” with a BIG smile on her face.

She has also learned about feelings from her favorite, (and only) TV show, Daniel Tiger. I feel a little less guilty letting her have some screen time because there are a lot of songs about feelings on that show. 
Other ways to teach about feelings: 
    1. Get a few books that teach toddlers about feelings. One I really like is Calm Down Time.
    2. Identify your own feelings when you feel mad or sad.
    3. Daniel Tiger, LOL

These are all ideas of what to teach toddlers at home, and what I’ve specifically found very helpful. Searching for small ways like this to improve quality of life can make big changes.

Interested in more toddler articles? 

Read more here>>

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What are some things you teach your toddlers at home? Comment below!


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