My kids are currently at the age where they love to help. Tonight while doing the dishes, they made an even bigger mess than was there to begin. But I will always let them “help.” Our daughter put away the silverware from the dishwasher. Forks were upside down, and the big and small spoons were all mixed together. But I praised her for helping and contributing to our family.
As parents, we send lots of messages to our kids that help grow or diminish their self-concept.
- Children who have a good self-concept or self-esteem typically do better in school, make wiser choices, and work hard. They have higher feelings of self-worth and value.
- On the other end, children who do not have a strong self-concept are the ones who typically have trouble with friends or at school. They may feel like a failure before they even have the chance to begin. Their self-concepts are developed based on how the big people in their lives (usually their parents) respond to them.
- We need to communicate to our children that we love them unconditionally. Our love for them is not based on how well they perform, how good their grades are, or how well they washed the dishes.
- We want to show our children they are valued members of our family and their contributions to daily life are important, noticed, valued, and beneficial.
- Let your child struggle so they are able to see that they can overcome the challenge, or allow them to ask for help when they need it. The parent who swoops in to help isn’t really helping. They are sending the child a message that they aren’t good enough to solve the problem themselves.
The end result of our kids doing the dishes for me was messy. But they tried. They worked hard. And perhaps best of all, they had fun. If I had pointed out the spots they missed or all the suds still on the glasses, or the disarray of the silverware what impact do you think that would have had on their feeling of value? If I had told them they didn’t do a good job, do you think they would continually want to help?
When my three-year-old wants to help me fold laundry, should I criticize how messy he folded his shirts? Or should I encourage him and thank him for being a good helper? I do not want to focus on the end result of his work, but on the process of him learning how to fold, and how to help. I know that the more he wants to help and the older he gets, the better he will get. But if I criticize him or tell him I don’t want his help, he will never have the opportunity to learn through the process. Not only that, but I have covertly told him he isn’t good enough to help. Showing our kids I love them regardless of their performance is much more important than the end result of clean dishes. Allowing them to help even though they didn’t get things done to my standard shows them I see them as valued and important parts of our family.
I may have high standards for how the house should look, but I have come to realize I cannot live to that standard in the season of life I am in with three small kids in the house. I am not expecting to live to this standard at this time. Why should I expect my kids to work to my unachievable standards?
Being Part of the Family
Should kids have to do chores around the house? Should they be paid? Depending on your own beliefs and whatever works for your family, paying a child for chores may or may not work. Some families do allowances and some work on the commission system. But kids should be expected to do some things around the house without payment. That is just part of being in a family. We are here to help each other. Kids should not be considered honored guests in the home. They are part of the family and should help. Typically, we do not call chores “chores.” We call them “contributions.”
- The child will learn how to do chores efficiently. This will be important when they move out.
- I don’t want my kids believing everything will be done for them, or that they should expect something in return for during the basic contributions to life that a family needs done to function.
- Kids can be taught how to manage money without being paid for all their contributions. We can model and teach them how to handle money. This is a great book on how to teach kids how to handle money.
- The child will feel important. Yes, they may gripe about making their bed or setting the table. But helping the family is an important way to show a child or teen they are loved, they are important to the daily life of the family, and they are helping others.
- Even if they don’t do the chore well, as long as they are trying we should thank them and continue to praise them for being a valued member of the family and for trying their best.
- Contributing to the family helps a child know they are important and have value to the family.
- Make contributions to the family fun.
- Encourage our children when they are trying.
- Focus on their level of effort.
- Have a good time together.
- Chores/contributions to the family shouldn’t be a punishment. When chores are a punishment, they will associate cleaning their rooms or doing dishes as punishment. If they feel doing these things are punishment, how often would they want to do it? Kids need their own contributions (“jobs”). But when they drain our energy, need to pay us back, or want to earn extra money doing our jobs or doing extra work can be a solution.
- We want our kids to be raised with an attitude of generosity, not to always think, “What’s in it for me?”
- Kids have to learn how to do what it takes to make a household run. Sending a kid off to college without the ability to clean, cook, or do basic chores is setting the child up for a very uncomfortable life (or one where they return home for help).
- Additionally, sending a kid out into the real world without any work ethic will be just as disastrous. Kids need to understand that work is good. Work is how we get things done and how we contribute to the family and a working job is how we earn money.
- Kids who are not motivated to work at home won’t be motivated to work at school, sports, or adult life.
- Parents are in control of the house. Find a system that works for your family, whether it be an allowance or commissions for various jobs.
- Kids are not entitled to have things or have things done for them. When kids are raised to believe everything will be done for them, or that they will be paid for doing the basic chores of life, they can become entitled to believe they deserve more in life than they do.
- Doing family contributions and dealing with consequences for not doing them are great opportunities for teachable moments.
- We need to raise kids who are prepared to be strong and capable adults.
Making sure our children know they are loved and valued members of the family is far more important than perfectly done chores or our child’s achievements.
Do you focus on the end result instead of the learning process?
Do you have a “helping with the dishes” example?
What are other ways to build a child’s self-concept?
What contributions should your child be expected to do as part of the family?
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