I often get asked how one gets his kids to help around the house. Obviously, there are many aspects at play in having helpful kids, but I wanted to limit myself - for today - to one: accepting help.
Our kids grow up eager to help out their parents, that's what they're biologically designed to do: mimic the adults of their society.
Now, in our busy times, kids often get brushed off when they show a genuine interest in helping out, especially when they're very young. We think they'd make a mess and we're better off doing it ourselves.
Most likely, you are. As I'm typing, my daughter took over cleaning the floor of the dining room. I can clearly see spots she missed, and she keeps going through the wet spots. I'll probably have to pass over again.
But here's why I allow her to do it anyway: by brushing off our kids when they offer to help, we stunt their genuine desire to help. It should come as no surprise - but oddly does to most parents - that when they are eventually expected to help, as teens and preteens, they don't really want to.
Working alongside a child can take more planning and time, the job might not be done to your standards, but you will reap the benefits eventually, and your child certainly will.
A couple of tips if you're in a hurry:
- get a second set of whatever it is you're using and have them help along
- perform another task (preferably in the same room so you can give a hand and some pointers where needed) while your child takes over what you set out to do
- Ask for help from an early age, but don't force
- When you have more time, take the moment to do a chore together and explain how you like it done (you may want to explain why too)