We can sometimes shy away from expecting a huge amount from our kids because either we want them to enjoy their childhood, relax and have fun, or, they whine and complain and do such a bad job it’s simply way faster just to do it ourselves! But I would argue that your children are way, way, way more capable than they make out and they are secretly hiding their potential from you. The world gains so much when we all have helpful kids.
So we want our kids to enjoy their childhood, it won’t last forever, they will be responsible adults soon enough, but I would argue that the ‘relax & just be a kid’ part isn’t as essential as it is for them to feel like their day was rewarding and meaningful. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to tell you to get your kids to quit school and go to work, but I will challenge you to get your children to start contributing to the things that matter in your family household.
This realisation occurred to me when I watched my kids do chores at a kids camp. They were 11 & 13 at the time. They were doing jobs that I would never have asked them to do at home. Cleaning bathrooms, getting boiling water and mopping floors, doing HUGE amounts of dishes, vacuuming ceilings and large floor areas. I was completely surprised at what they were able to do, with no help, and alarmed that I had not asked them to help at home! You may be thinking that I should have known they could do more at 11 & 13, but I simply didn’t see it.
They were growing up in front of me and I hadn’t noticed how ‘big’ they had actually become!
It’s called participation, being in a team, group or family, everyone has a part to play. Kids know this. You watch what happens if someone is sitting around watching TV while another has to do a chore. They act as it’s criminal. Children know the rules and generally are happy to follow them when they know they will be enforced.
Of course, you have to be wise with ages, stages and abilities, but even littles can do something.
The 3-year-old can help take out the rubbish or feed the cat. They don’t want a job that is too hard, that would be degrading, but they do want to contribute and have job satisfaction.
Pre-teen/teens are a bit different, they won’t want menial tasks, they want to be given jobs that have a purpose and to make a contribution. Bringing in the firewood, cleaning the bathroom, making dinner or water blasting the driveway.
Be sure to match the job with your child’s true abilities and you will both win!
NOT EVERYTHING HAS TO BE DONE BY YOU
So don’t always assume that every single thing you see that needs to be done around the place has to be done by you. Look around at the able-bodied people in your home and begin to expect effort from them, it will teach them so much as well as help you out. Remember, they may not thank you for it right away, but one day they will.