Singaporean kids have it really easy these days. I don’t mean academically, of course. Within the four walls of home, most kids rarely have to lift a finger to contribute to the daily running of the household. It’s all handled by Dad and Mum, or the helper. It’s as if their main focus on life is just to play, study, eat and sleep.
Experts maintain that doing everything for your child is actually doing him a huge disservice. It might seem like he is a happier kid because of his lack of care and responsibilities, but this kind of a lifestyle paves away for a lifelong attitude of “entitlement” and irresponsibility. The truth is that if you give in to every little want and need your child expresses, you are really feeding and nurturing a sense of false entitlement, which can lead to problems later on.
Already, children are being led to believe that they are entitled to receive from the messages they get in the media or from their friends. That sense of entitlement is also cultivated by excessive praise and rewards in normal day-to-day life.
As part of the ongoing battle against this pervasive attitude, it is critical that we challenge our children to work for what they want, and be responsible for the results. Teach your child the value of hard work, of sticking to a task and achieving success through perseverance. As with all other life lessons, this begins in the home.
Getting your child to help with the housework is a wonderful way to introduce them to a sense of responsibility and to challenge them to learn new life skills. Even very young children – toddlers and preschoolers – can help out around the house. And with some guidance and encouragement, you’ll begin to see them stepping out more and more, taking the initiative to “help” you in new tasks, as they grow older.
It helps not to refer to these tasks as “chores” – instead simply refer to them as the tasks that need to be done as a way of life. Be sure to say “Thank you” and praise your children for a job well done. At the same time, don’t be quick to offer praise if they didn’t do a good job. Appreciate the effort, but encourage them to do it better next time round.
Here are a few ways you can ask your toddler to help out for a start!
In the Kitchen:
- Wipe the dishes
Start her off on the plastic and silver ware first, before moving on to the more fragile stuff! It can help to invest in a little stool (check out Ikea) which she can stand on so she’s right by you at the sink. Or transfer all the wet plates to a towel-covered table top where she can wipe them dry.
- Serve the water
The right pitcher for the right job! Look for one that doesn’t tip over too quickly, and has a smaller spout or opening where the water comes out.
- Set the table
Again, start with letting him set out the non-breakable items, like placemats and cutlery, before moving on to the breakables like bowls and plates.
- Put the dirty dishes in the sink
Once he’s comfortable carrying the dishes about, teach him to stack the plates and transfer the dirty crockery from the dining table to the kitchen sink!
- Keep the groceries
Get your little helper to put the groceries away when you get home. Vegetables in the vegetable drawer, bread on the counter, meat in the freezer etc. You might want to handle the eggs yourself though 😉
Doing the laundry
- Peg the clothes up
With a stool, your child can help you peg up smaller items like towels, underwear and socks. Don’t let her do this unsupervised, however, as laundry areas are typically danger zones for young kids.
- Fold the towels
Start him off with learning how to fold square hand towels. It’s harder than it looks, for little hands to master, but he’ll get there!
In their room
- Draw the curtains
She can draw the curtains every morning, first thing after she wakes up. Before bed, she can pull them shut to keep out the morning sun’s glare.
- Keep books and toys
Don’t pick up after your child all the time. Sure, once in a while, it’s fine to take over, for example if you’re in a hurry to leave the house. Other than those times, let your child know he has to tidy up his things, and clean up one mess before moving on to a new activity.
Around the House
- Magic mop
Whoever designed the magic mop must have had kids in mind! This “tool” is extremely easy for kids to use, and some of them will love it so much you won’t be able to stop them from mopping! Good for daily maintenance of the home…
- Fill the pail
When it comes to real mopping, your child can help you fill the pail with water for the mop.
- Remove the covers
Taking off pillowcases is a fun task to do. She can learn to unzip the cases, manouvre pillows out, and bring the cases to the laundry basket. Many little tasks in one!
By Dorothea Chow