Can you imagine your child helping with the household tasks without even being asked? It can happen. But getting children to help without being asked is a process, a challenging process that many parents choose to forego or don’t want to accept.
This process begins when we, as parents, recognize and acknowledge our children’s desire to help. In fact, children do love to help their parents. Their desire to help may come at the most inopportune moments, like when we’re in a hurry or doing a more complex task. As a result, we are reluctant to acknowledge their desire to help and even more reluctant to invite them to participate in the task. But, if we want children who help without being asked, that is exactly what we need to do—recognize their desire to help and invite them to become involved in the task. If the task is too complex, let them work on an aspect of the task they can manage. Or, even better, do the task together, hand over hand, teaching them while giving give them a sense of involvement.
Yes, this may mean the task takes longer to accomplish. It may also mean a little more “mess” to clean up…but you can clean up together (AKA—spend more time together). Involving your child may require modifying tools and even the process of the task as well (You’ll find some great tips on modifications at How We Montessori.)
It will require some extra effort on your part, but involving your children is an investment in your children’s future and the future of your home.
- They will remember the time they spent with you “getting things done,” adding to their sense of agency and their fond memories of family.
- Your relationship will be strengthened by accomplishing tasks together and the conversations you share while doing so.
- Moreover, as they practice the task, they will learn to do it more independently. They will master the task, giving them a sense of industry as well.
- Involving your children in tasks also teaches them. It teaches them to identify themselves as a “helper” rather than an “entitled recipient.” It teaches them that they have a valued and significant role in keeping the household running smoothly. They are part of the family team.
When all is said and done, if you want your children to complete tasks around the house independently, you must answer a question and accept a challenge.
- The question: Are you willing to acknowledge your children’s desire to help and even involve them in household tasks even though it will initially slow you down and make more work?
- The Challenge: How will you live out the answer to that question? How you choose to live out the answer to that question on a daily basis will ultimately determine how much your children help to complete household chores without even being asked.