5 Tips For Getting Your Littles
To Help Out Around The House
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, one of our most important jobs as parents is keeping our children from becoming self-centered jerks. Luckily, there are some easy ways to steer your child toward helping and pitching in, while helping them increase their confidence and competence.
One of the ways we’re trying to instill a sense of family, community, and responsibility at home is through chores.
A few simple tips:
- Set a goal and work backwards: Sad truth, mamas: we are raising these children to leave us. We have roughly 18 years to prepare our kids to be ready to fly out of our nest. That may sound a tad melodramatic, but it’s helpful to remember when determining the skills you need to practice with your kids. You want your child to be able to do his own laundry by age 16? Start by having him help you sort and fold at age 5. Begin with the big goal, and then chop it into manageable responsibility milestones you can help your child reach, one step at a time.
- Training – The ability to load a dishwasher is not an innate skill. When you think your child is ready to tackle a new task, be prepared to put in some time. You demonstrate the duty a few times, while your child watches, do it together a few times, and then your child can give it a whirl with you standing by for help, if needed.
- Words (and tone) Matter – the word “chore” sounds like, well, a chore. Come up with a term that works for your family – we use “work” – not much better, I know – and have friends who use “responsibility” – but find something that feels right for you, and keep the tone positive. No, you don’t have to sing like Mary Poppins while you clean toilets, but why not play some fun music or make a game out of who can get their tasks done (well) fastest.
- Don’t lose your chill – Our kids are more capable than we think. There’s no one prouder than a 5-year-old who successfully uses a knife for the first time. Train, practice, and then back off.
- Take the “responsibility spirit” with you – when we go for a hike or have a family picnic in the park, we try to practice the “campsite rule” – leave things better than you found them. Help your child tidy up trash and find other ways to take responsibility for their neighborhood and city too.
One of our family rules is “everyone helps to keep the house running.” As our little guy gets older, I hope he grows to appreciate the responsibility tools we gave him.
At the very least, his first roommate will appreciate his mad dishwasher loading skills.