Helping Our Kids become Helpers

Have your kids ever surprised you with the things they are capable of doing? I feel like it happens all of the time! Part of it is because they grow and change so fast, and part of it is that I think we just plain underestimate them!

Thanks to some friends who are a bit more on-top-of-it in this area than I am, I’ve been realizing that I need to be more intentional to give my kids age-appropriate challenges. One of the main things that I’ve been working on is helping my kids take the next steps in being more self-sufficient and helpful around the home. The best part about this is that not only is it incredibly helpful to me, but more importantly, the kids LOVE the challenges and feel so fulfilled as they see themselves as true helpers, AND it is so great for their development! My kids are 2 and 4, so we’re talking about little guys being a big help!

I know we often have plans for teaching our kids various skills and topics. As Christian parents, most of us have plans to help our kids grow in their knowledge of God. Another area that is great to evaluate and plan for is helping our kids grow in taking care of themselves as well as in taking part in helping at home. It is a wonderful thing for our kids to learn how to serve and be a part of a family, and to take ownership for making home life run smoothly.

Here are some challenges for little ones that help them learn and feel a sense of accomplishment, teach them to be more self-sufficient, and that encourage them to help serve within the family:

-Getting dressed and un-dressed

-Buttons, snaps, zippers, laces

-Putting away toys, and sorting them by putting them in the right bins. This is a given of course, but I am so often tempted to do it myself since I am faster than they are. BUT, the point is that they learn how to do it themselves and that the responsibility is theirs and not mine.

-Putting dirty clothes in the laundry. Older kids can sort whites, lights, and darks and perhaps even start the washer.

-Putting away clean laundry. Even a 2 year old can learn where his shirts, pants, pajamas, and socks go, as long as he can reach them. Older kids can fold their own laundry as well.

-Clearing dishes from the table. This is my 4-year-old’s favorite chore. My 2-year old even likes to help with the plastic things.

-Dusting. They might not do a perfect job, but little guys can be a big help and have lots of fun if you just give them a damp rag and show them what to do.

-Putting away certain dishes. We have Tupperware and non-breakable items on lower shelves. It would probably be easier for me to put them away myself right now, but it is teaching a skill, and soon my daughter will be able to put the glass things away too.

-Setting the table. You might want to put glass things out yourself, but little guys can do a fine job at putting silverware and napkins out if they know what is need at the meal.

– Making their bed. Some bedding is easier than others, but of course the point is teaching them how to do it and giving them the chance to practice.

This list might just look like a list of things that kids will learn at some point regardless, but the point is that we often wait too long when our little guys are actually highly capable and eager to help at a young age. Sometimes we don’t give them opportunities to help with things that they are more than able and excited to do if just given a bit of instruction!

What skills are your kids capable of that totally surprise you? How have you seen them excited about being helpers? Are you like me in that you often fall into the trap of just doing things yourself to save time in the moment rather than investing to build upon a skill? Please share!

(Post by: Ashley)


1 Response to “Helping Our Kids become Helpers”

  1. 1 Rachel January 31, 2010 at 1:55 am

    My little 18 month old always surprises me. He is often very willing to help and does things on his own. The times I tell him to do things are usully when he doen´t want to help.

    Things he does:

    Puts clothes away (not always folded)
    Takes out trash with help (we can´t stop him from doing this one)
    Puts toys away
    Puts fruit and veggies away
    Brings his bath tub in and puts it in the shower
    Puts shoes away
    Takes things to the room or bed, etc.

    There are other things he does this is just a few.

    I do sometimes start to do things myself so that it will be done right. One I struggle with is letting him try to dress and undress. Seems like I am always trying to get it done to do someting else or head out the door.

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