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4 Reasons to let young kids do chores

29.6.15
Z is the youngest, and she stays close to me. She draws up her stool or bench to the stove, table, or counter and digs right in. Everyone agrees she is (out of all the kids) most like me. I always have a little helper. Sometimes it's overwhelming, because I don't want her help.  
Sometimes I need to move fast, and don't have time for encouragement or instruction. The thing is she is a leader, she doesn't want to hear anything from me; and when she's focused, don't ever try to stop her.

I first wrote about helping kids manage play spaces here, but what happens when they want to help you manage your space? At 21 months, I know it's not practical to call her from her activities to come and help with specific chores, but make no mistake, putting away toys and helping to gather dirty clothes for laundry is something she excels in - if she is in the mood. If she's not in a good mood, then don't even ask.
The question is if I have to encourage and bargain with my child to put away toys, why in the world does she want to help me cook, or clean alongside me? I think the answer is obvious - it just seems more interesting.  Honestly, most of the time it seems like a lose-lose from my side. Having a (sort-of) Waldorf inspired home, purposeful work is always at the forefront of my mind. However, I spend my whole day with kids, instructing, grooming ,encouraging; it can be a bit daunting. At the end of the day, there are just some things that I need to get done - as soon as possible.

Many parents know what I am talking about here. The pressure of having a little one hanging around trying to imitate mom or dad when time is of an essence can be complicated. In fact, the time it takes to get the chore done is not only doubled or tripled, but also leaving me with an end result of rattled nerves.

Lately, Z insists on being a helper every single day, and I have been complying because there are so many benefits to allowing and teaching a child to do anything, especially if her heart is set on it.
But I'll be honest, the above reason was my 2nd thought, the reality is that at first I was worn out from trying to keep her distracted so that I could do my work.
Here are some reasons I let my young kid do chores/work with me (even when I really don't have the time):  
Great bonding/teaching moments - We are all busy parents, and it seems the only time we get to spend with our kids is when we are worn out. It's great for kids to be a part of the fixing/cleaning process, instead of having you walk around them.

Teaches patience - This goes both ways. From a parents' standpoint a simple task can become a momentous task with the help of a child - get over it! Commit to allowing your child to help at least once a week. From a child's point of view helping can sometimes be on their terms- my 4 year old does this. A task that takes more than 5 minutes, and calls for a lot of attention teaches him that work is not always fun.

Promotes a positive attitude - Often as children grow, they hear us mumbling and complaining about how stressful this or that is. The word chore or work seems like an inherently negative things. Having your child help with small jobs, can make them feel that they are giving back, not just taking. As they get older this is very important.

Teaches responsibility - Of course at 21 months I will not be lecturing my child about household responsibilities, but they do grow so fast. Allowing kids to start early by helping around the house, says a few things:
  • you are a contributor to our family
  • you have skills
  • you can learn skills
There may come a time when chores will become "boring". My teens are notorious for using this word to describe just about anything these days. Perhaps even you will be seen as boring :) Essentially, your child will just not be interested in tagging along or listening to you explain how to do a specific task. Until that time comes (if it does), I say treasure the days, however many you are given, and keep encouraging your child to do just a little each day.

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3 comments:

Emmas Mamma at: June 29, 2015 at 12:24 PM said...

Great post! My 15 month old daughter has just discovered the dishwasher. I let her help me empty it once and now as soon as I open it she comes running. She's actually really good at emptying it and listens to what I tell her. I was totally surprised but it's actually more fun than doing it on my own! :) #sharethejoy

Michelle Reeves - Bod for tea at: July 1, 2015 at 5:42 AM said...

You're so right on these reasons - it's great for kids to get a sense of responsibility from an early age and while it can be tricky when you're in a rush and just need to get things done I'm sure it will pay dividends as they grow up. Thanks for linking this up at #sharethejoy

Mrs Tubbs at: July 6, 2015 at 11:50 AM said...

You're so right, getting them into good habits when they're young helps when they're older. Thanks for linking up with #sharethejoy

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“A hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had in the bank…but the world may be a better place because I made a difference in the life of a child.”
~ Forest Witcraft

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