Google+ Authentic Parenting: Helping Around the House: Learning Life Skills and Building Connection.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Helping Around the House: Learning Life Skills and Building Connection.

Helping around the house gives children a chance to learn responsibility, it also provides a fantastic way for children to feel like they belong and are important members of their family. Under the right supervision combined with realistic expectations children and parents can really come to enjoy sharing responsibility for household jobs. Working together also provides opportunities for families to connect.

At our house we like to view sharing household jobs not as chores or demands but just as part of living in a family. Both my husband and I share household jobs. My husband even does the laundry, including folding and ironing (fantastic right?!) Our children really join in and help out very often with various tasks. From cleaning up toys to vacuuming or washing dishes, we usually invite our children be a part of the process and often find that it provides not just a chance to get things done but invaluable time together to connect.

When my children show interest in a particular task and ask if they can help, I try to find a way for them to be involved. My hope is that if they are involved early on and encouraged to participate and welcomed to contribute it will give them a sense of accomplishment for their own work. I also hope that it will create a sense of capability and responsibility that will follow them for life.

For example, since being able to walk, my daughter loves to put away the clean drinking cups, plates, mixing spoons etc. We have a chance to be together, she likes to listen to the names of household items and she feels so proud of her work, often she claps for herself after closing up a cabinet or figuring out where to best balance a plate on the shelf.

My three year old sometimes asks if he can help with the washing of pots and pans and so standing on a chair he likes to suds up everything he can hold. This gives me a great chance to listen to him, hear about his day, his thoughts and enthusiasm for micro soap bubbles and sloppy sponges. It’s not about washing dishes to have clean dishes but really about washing dishes to be together in his world. Oh and about drying the floor together because of the splattering water…

Whenever I start wondering if being positive and relaxed about our expectations on household chores for the children could be wrong I try to remember this moment: Recently after lunch the kitchen was looking a lot like a tornado had gone through it. The boys were really hoping to go to the playground right away. I explained that I needed to clear the dining table and wash some dishes and then we would head out. Before I even had a chance ask for help all three were bringing in plates, silverware, cups and place mats right into the kitchen. My three year old started furiously washing everything in the sink and handing it over to my five year old who was drying it all up and handing over the smaller items to my daughter to put away. Within fifteen minutes we had cleared up the table, washed dishes, dried the floor and were headed out to the park. Was everything done perfectly? No, not at all. Was everything done with smiles, laughter and a genuine desire to help? Yes and I’ll take genuine over perfect any day.

So do your children help around the house? Is it a hassle or a joy?

Looking for ideas on how to involve your child in household tasks? Check out this list of suggestions based on different ages & stages.

Peace & Be Well,


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