Children are natural born helpers.
From the time they are very small they are watching everything we do, and they want to be like us.
Think of your baby in the high chair learning to eat on her own. Once she gets the hang of it, she starts to offer to feed you. Your toddler follows you around the house constantly and offers to help with cooking, feeding the baby, doing the dishes, or running the vacuum. Even your older children like to help out, although they usually offer to help with something more exciting than the dishes.
My kids couldn’t wait to be old enough to help cut the grass, or do an oil change. They will still help with other chores, but those “big kid” chores are always the ones they choose first.
Kids want to be helpful, valued and loved.
If we, as parents and adults, model how to be helpful in our daily lives, they will naturally do the same.
When children are young and eagerly want to help you, try:
- giving them the chance to do a job.
- being thankful for their help.
- not to re-do the job.
That last one can be a struggle for those who like things to be done a certain way, but it is so important.
If you go around re-doing all the jobs your child has done for you, it sends the message that the effort they happily and willingly just put in for you isn’t valued. Soon a cycle can start where, as they grow older, they’ll do less and less for you.
There have been many times where my linen closet has had towels folded into unrecognizable geometric shapes shoved onto the shelves, instead of the neat stacks I prefer.
I always show my kids that I am thankful for their help. We can find another day when we are all folding towels together for me to help them learn how to fold better; but for now, they helped me clean up when I was pressed for time.
That effort is worth all my praise, and for them to feel valued and proud of their helpfulness.
This is a step toward raising helpful kids to become helpful adults who are empathetic contributors to society.
Watch the kids giving helping hand by pushing their school bus to gas station.