So what can we do to keep the desire to contribute alive and well in our children?
- First, we should begin by giving our children developmentally appropriate tasks. As soon as children can walk they can learn to help pick up their toys. Pre-schoolers can put their clothes in the hamper, set the table, or make their beds. School-aged children can do almost any household task that is not physically hazardous.
- To ensure that our children get the correct message say, “When you pick up your things it really helps mom and me!” Phrases such as these let our children know they are needed and are a vital part of the family team. It also conveys a sense of trust, nurtures responsibility and caring, and enhances motivation and self-esteem.
- We must model the behaviors we wish to instill in our children.
- If we expect our children to pick up after themselves, we must set the example. Let them see us helping our neighbors and friends also. This takes the value of helping others to a much broader level.
- Give ample praise for a job well done and for a task that is attempted with sincerity. If we criticize our children’s fledgling efforts to perform a chore, they will be reluctant to comply in the future. Hearing constant nagging and disapproval is no motivation to try again.
- You may have to redo parts of a job until they get it right. However, don’t let your child see you go back over a chore they have just finished.
- Teach your children how to be organized. Help them to see that they can reduce their workload by putting things where they belong, combining tasks, (e.g. set the breakfast table while putting away the supper dishes), and learning to use clocks, calendars and lists.
- Spend time with your children as a reward for accomplishing their chores. This motivates them to help so that everyone can enjoy more leisure time activities.