Sunday, February 3, 2013

Kids Who Clean

WildChild is awesomely helpful. Much more so than I ever would have expected from a not-even-three year old child.

Is it Nature, or is it Nurture? Who knows. But here's some strategies that I've used to (hopefully) instil a belief in the value of work (why is 'housework' different to other work? Because it is thankless?).

I have mostly done housework when WildChild is around. It's a lot easier and faster to get done if she's sleeping or at daycare, but if I do it with her nearby then she SEES it being done, and it is normalised. I can't ask her to do chores in the future if she thinks magical fairies do it while we're out. What children see (and see repeatedly), they internalise.
I'm not so keen that she sees that I'm the only one who ever does the work, while all the males in the house (my father and two brothers) sit on their lazy butts, but hey.

I also try to seem happy whenever I'm working. Put on some music, sing and dance, even just smiling at her while I'm working helps. I saw a study once that said children eat more vegetables when they see their parents smile while eating them, so I figure it will work in this context too. I am genuine though, nobody is jumping for joy about getting to mop the floors, but whistling a tune or smiling isn't hard to do.

I bought her her own mini-size equipment. When she would try to imitate me with adult sized brooms etc she would fall over it, knock things off benches and pretty much make everything much more difficult. With her own she seems much more confident and capable, and actually can be pretty handy with a mop. Also she can go and get them whenever she likes and just practise through pretend-play, which is an extremely important learning experience for young children.

Lastly, I keep it age appropriate. I don't demand that she helps, I ask politely if she'd like to and I don't get angry if she says no. She's not even three yet, I'm not going to start expecting real help with anything for a while. If it matters to you though, she mostly does jump up to help as soon as she sees me with a broom. Also, I don't expect her to be good at it. Sometimes I'll explain a better way to do things, but I'm very relaxed about it, and fully expect that where she helps might need a slight touch up from me if I want it perfect.

And that's about it I think. As I said WildChild is usually super keen to help out, whether it's with cleaning windows, doing the laundry, or fixing a bike. I have no idea whether its because I intentionally use these strategies, or whether its just in her nature to be helpful. But if any of these ideas are of any use to anyone then I'll be glad :)

If you have any strategies or ideas you use with your kids, please feel free to share them!

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