The tried-and-tested trick I rely on to get my kids to help out with chores
The other day I was cleaning windows when my 6-year-old decided he wanted to help out.
This, of course, then turned into a 'the entire floor is now soaked and I have to clean it up situation' which made the whole window cleaning ordeal take at least twice as long as it would have taken had I turned him away and just got on with the cleaning myself.
However, according to experts, this is what we need to embrace if we want to raise competent, capable adults. Which, I assume, is the parenting Holy Grail for most of us.
“Sure, toddlers may want to help, but let's face reality here,” writes Michaeleen Doucleff on National Public Radio (NPR)'s blog, Goats and Soda. “They can be clumsy, destructive and even enraging. Their involvement in chores often slows things down or makes a mess. For this reason, many parents…rebuff a toddler's offer to help.”
Some of us, she explains, have even been known to stick kids in front of a screen so we can do dishes or a load of laundry in peace – and much faster than we would get it done if we accepted the kids' offer to help.
However, this is, apparently, the mother lode of missed opportunity. Even if kids spill the contents of the hoover all over the floor, or drench themselves doing the dishes or leave fingermarks all over the mirror the are trying to clean, you need to let them help.
The mums who understand this see the momentary frustration “as an investment,” writes Doucleff. “Encourage the messy, incompetent toddler who really wants to do the dishes now, and over time, he'll turn into the competent seven-year-old who still wants to help.” She quotes University of New Hampshire education professor Andrew Coppens, who says: “Early opportunities to collaborate with parents likely sets off a developmental trajectory that leads to children voluntarily helping and pitching in at home.”
Just think about it, parents, and you know it to be true.
“If you tell a child enough times, ‘No, you're not involved in this chore,’ Doucleff warns, "eventually they will believe you.”