Experts has recommended that children should start helping out with household chores as soon as they can follow simple directions, which is usually around 2 ½. Tricia K. Neppl, PHD, a researcher at the Institute for Social and Behvioural Research at Iowa State University has mentioned that, “It’s easier at this age, because toddlers are very eager to help and they think chores are fun. Helping Mommy and Daddy makes them feel confident and useful.” Being able to complete small chores helps to boost their self-esteem. These early experiences will allow them to learn responsibility, take pride in their work and be aware of how to contribute to the family.
What sort of chores can young children do?
Most parents would understand that children have an attention span so short they probably won’t stick with one task for too long. Here are a list of tasks that can be easily handled by pre-schoolers:
- Putting toys back to their respective places
- Putting their dirty laundry into the laundry basket
- Folding small pieces of laundry (E.g. socks, wash clothes, etc.)
- Putting away the laundry (make sure you have already designated space for different types of clothing!)
- Cleaning up spills
- Setting and clearing the table
- Sweeping and dusting
How can parents assist your children?
Now that you are aware of what your children can do, it’s time to learn about your “dos”.
- Keep your expectations simple
Remember even with all those assistance that you are getting from your child, he/she is still young. So, start small with age-appropriate and simple tasks. If you expect a child to take on something that he/she is not capable of doing, it will only backfire and the child will get frustrated and demoralized. On the other hand, if your child is able to complete small tasks successfully, he will enjoy the accomplishment and even look forward to do more in the future!
- Do it together
While your child might already be an expert in helping out, never leave your child unsupervised. Split the work and do it together. This is a great opportunity to promote family bonding.
- Be patient
It is a common sight to see parents rushing in to do it for their children when they are doing too slow or not doing it the way they want their children to do. By doing this, you are undermining your child’s effort and indirectly telling him/her that he/she is not doing well enough or he/she has fail your expectations. Allow your child to explore and learn how to complete the tasks that you have assigned them at their own pace.
- Be consistent
Set a routine for your child to do the chores and try to stick to it. If you ask your child to clean his/her table today, but do it for him/her tomorrow, your child will get confuse.
- Be generous with your praises
Surely, with all the effort, your child deserves some encouragement words, hugs or kisses right? Even if your child did not perform the tasks to perfection, remember not to get mad. Give your child a gentle reminder and thank him/her for the effort. All these simple actions might mean the world to a child and motivate him/her to perform better in the future.
- Make chore time, a playtime!
Children are usually more willing if it involves play. You can make the chore interesting by making it a time challenge to see who completes the task faster or simply give them a tool to work with like a broom, spray bottle, etc. You can also engage your child by adding some music or songs while cleaning, such as “This is the way we sweep the floor, sweep the floor, sweep the floor” which can be easily adapted to almost any cleaning task.