By Marcia Hall
You child will naturally want to help you do things around the house. At times, this insistence can be seen as a nuisance because it is generally easier and quicker to do the job by yourself than to have little, clumsy hands help. However, there are a lot of reasons we should encourage children to pitch in.
It builds independence
Encouraging your child to do things on her own will promote a positive sense of self which will in turn help your child to gain her own independence. This is a very good thing; even if at times you wish that she did not have so much independence.
Among the many jobs parents have, one is to help create a person who will be able to survive on her own. This movement toward independence starts at a very young age. As soon as a child is able to understand how to get her body to do what she wants it to she will begin to crawl and walk away from you, feed herself, and play on her own. This is also a great time to begin teaching her to clean her own things up. She will need lots of help and encouragement to learn this task, but constantly encouraging her will help it become commonplace for her to do small tasks.
It creates connection
Just like any new habit you help your child develop, while you are teaching her to help around the house you will get to spend time with her. This naturally creates a connection between you and your child. She wants nothing more than to be near you doing what you are doing.
Create that connection by using the phrase “Let’s clean up your toys!” When it’s said with excitement in your voice your child will naturally want to do it too. But she will also be drawn to the task just because you are cleaning with her.
After a while that “good” feeling she gets when cleaning the toys with you will be transferred to the act itself. She will then get a “good” feeling cleaning up the toys, even if you don’t always help her do it. To insure this “good” feeling continues, be sure to continue to clean up with her from time to time.
It develops a great work ethic
You want your child to grow up and have a job that he loves and does to the best of his ability. That is what it means to have a good work ethic. School is one of the first places we see the level of work ethic our child has. Does he do the bare minimum of what is expected in his class, or does he work hard to learn and improve his skills. There is no better way to teach your child to work hard and always try than having him help around the house.
In order to help your child build this strong work ethic you need to ask him to participate in household chores from a very early age, explaining to him that everyone in the family works together to keep the house beautiful and safe. By giving your child, even when he’s a toddler, certain responsibilities, helping him learn to do those jobs on his own, and then encouraging him when he’s done a job well, you will help him develop a great sense of satisfaction in the job he did, even when it is very hard to do.
It develops positive self-esteem
Nothing builds a better work ethic than helping your child feel the satisfaction of doing a job to the best of her ability. To do this you will want to avoid harshly correcting your child for chores that are done improperly, especially at first. Remember that she is still learning, and that almost no one does everything right the first time. If you criticize the job even a little bit when it is not perfect you will find that it is very difficult to get him to do that task again.
Praise the fact that your child is trying hard. Give him a chance to see and correct the error himself. “You worked so hard to wipe off that table! Mommy sometimes misses spots too. Do you see any spots that did not get wiped?”
If you feel the need to go back and finish or fix the chore, it is important to do so later and not in front of your child. There is nothing more discouraging than having a person fix the mistake you have made.
Taking the time to encourage your children to help out around the house does more than just keep the home tidy, it instills lifelong lessons that will help him to develop into a responsible and caring adult.