Chores and Children

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LaundryAre we doing our children a favor when we do too much for them? What may start out as an act of kindness can lead to the creation of a ‘handicap.’ We are programmed to feel good about developing competence. Notice how the infant grabs the spoon because she wants to feed herself. Consider the stubborn determination of the two-year old who insists on tying his shoes himself, whether he knows how or not.

Parents readily understand the importance of supporting learning when it comes to physical skill and development. Sometimes this does not follow through in other areas.

As children grow, the level of competence in areas of daily living should grow too. They should learn to make their beds and tidy their rooms. A five year-old can do these things with assistance, as well as setting the table and unloading the dishwasher.

A couple of years later, children should be able to help with vacuuming, dusting, and putting away laundry. By eleven or twelve years of age they should be capable of preparing a meal, and doing their own laundry.

Not only should they know how to do these things, but there should be an expectation that they carry some of the responsibility for maintaining the household. This way, they can move smoothly into adulthood being perfectly capable of taking care of themselves. If, from early on, they have had their jobs to do, there should not be a big backlash when they reach the teen years.

Children who reach their teen years, and still have everything done for them are handicapped in two ways. First, they do not know how to do some of these basic things, and second, they have the expectation that someone else should be responsible for looking after them. This can set them up for being selfish and having a bad attitude.

If your children are young, get them helping as they grow. If they are older, get them started. They will not like it at first, but be consistent and stay with it. They will get used to it, and will be better people for it.

Copyright © Gwen Randall-Young, All Rights Reserved. Contact us if you would like permission to reprint.
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