Who Runs Your House – the kids or you?

by Karen Phillip

Taken from chapter 12 of “Who Runs Your House – the kids or you?”

 

kid-helps-raking-the-leavesHow many parents do you know that complain their child does nothing around the house or that they are so lazy or hopeless. Who is the smart one here? The child, of course.

 

Perhaps they were not given the opportunity of learning how to do independent things. Perhaps they had everything always done for them. Suddenly, asking them to now do it is like a red flag to a bull.

 

Little children love to help, love to do and learn new things, and love to be ‘big enough’ to help. Learning these things when they are little enables them to carry them on as a normal function when older. So stop doing everything for your little children. Allow them the opportunity to learn to do things independently for themselves. This way you are teaching, and they are learning the vital things for life. If started early, it is just so easy to have your children do their jobs. No problem and no complaints, they just do it as it is expected. It becomes a normal part of their life, like using the toilet and eating and washing hands. It is just what you do, doesn’t everyone?

 

A two-year-old child can learn to pack away their toys and items (with help), maybe not brilliantly yet with some assistance they can. They can find their shoes and socks, attempt to put them on, place dirty clothes into the hamper, and use a dustpan and brush (a bit).

A three-year-old child can do all the above better plus much more. They pack all toys and items away correctly, they can fold and place clothes into correct drawers, toilet themselves, organise boxes of toys, sort their shelves, start using utensils correctly, dress themselves, place items in correct places, and wipe over benches or tables. They love cleaning up with you.

A four-year-old child can also set the table, collect dirty utensils, plates, cups, and place them in the sink. They can wash basic items at the sink, maybe standing on a small stool, tidy up better, manage their own self-cleaning, dressing themselves, pour a drink, make a basic sandwich, learn how to use a knife and fork correctly, use their DS and the TV, and start learning to make their bed.

A five-year-old is a little person and should be fairly independent doing all the above, including make their own bed such as pulling up their sheets and quilt. They can start placing spreads, cheese, meats on to sandwiches or plates, setting the table, then clearing away the salt, pepper, sauce, and so forth, after dinner, putting placemats into the draw, and so on.

By six to eight years, they can assist cutting up vegetables or salad—under supervision. They love helping in the kitchen or shed and they can do a lot outside too.

 

Children love to wipe clean and polish, they can sweep or vacuum, pack items up outside. They can do it. Just look at the Junior Master Chef shows on TV, my goodness, those ten-year-olds are cooking like superb chefs. They can only learn that by doing, from instruction, by being allowed. Children can be so very clever. Honestly, who would have thought a ten-year-old can make a Welsh pie or Pavlova the way these kids can? It’s amazing. Just shows if they can do that sort of complicated thing, they sure can pack away toys, pick up their wet towels, fold their clothes and place them into the drawer, put stuff on or off the table, and help mix, cut, and prepare things in the kitchen. Let them try.

 

Raise the bar, and you will be surprised how well they can rise to the challenge. Set the bar low, then it is low you will receive, set the bar higher and higher is what they should strive towards.

And think about the older eight-year sibling in third world countries, raising their younger siblings, comforting them, collecting food and water, preparing meals. Scary thought in our world, but they do all this because they have to and because they can.

 

Children, therefore, can start looking after their belongings and doing basic little jobs from two years. The older they are, the more competent they become. Allow and expect them to, and they will.

 

So many parents complain because their child will not do anything or help out at home. If you encourage and show your child these jobs from the start, it will become a matter of course in their day, an expected behaviour like brushing their teeth. While it can be tricky to have them start from the age of eight to ten, it can certainly be managed and mainly by exchanging their required jobs for their sport or friends visits. Start, therefore, as young as you can and as soon as you can. Teach them how to do things properly, and they can learn this fast. If they object, then take something they want away; whatever they may want that you provide them. It may be a cooked meal so dish up perhaps a raw vegetable meal because you couldn’t be bothered actually cooking it. They will not like a raw meal as much as you do not like them refusing to do their required tasks. A compromise can be then be reached. I will when you will. Just like rewards, they work very well.

 

If your child starts to go to the big toilet you give them a stamp, no wee, no stamp. Is this not exactly the same?; yes it is. They need to do something in order to get something. We all do. If I did not want to go to work, I would not get paid. If I refused to do my assignment, I would not pass. If I didn’t pack away my toys, Mum would take them away from me. If I refused to do my jobs, I would not receive a nice hot dinner. For littler children, even keeping the bubbles or toys out of the bath for one night can give them the message.

Never, however, take away or remove your love, kisses, or cuddles. These are as unconditional as your love to them. Just because their behaviour may be difficult they remain the same gorgeous child as always.

The child is not the behavior; the behavior is the behavior.

 

Enable your child to become independent and self-reliant. They will be that way forever. They will be independent at school, at their friends place, at sport training, and everywhere. Your child will learn to rely on themselves through your guidance and opportunity.

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