How to raise a helper.
I don’t know about you… but I don’t want to be doing things for my daughter for the rest of her childhood. Nor do I want to be doing all of the household chores by myself forever.
I want my daughter to help me without bothering her to do it every second of the day. After spending many years raising other people’s children, I learned that the best way to have a helper is to raise a helper.
How to Raise a Helper
I was in the kitchen doing the dishes one day when my 3-year-old daughter came in to grab the stepping stool and take it out the back door.
I watched her struggle to open it and wondered what she was up to.
When she ran off and came back with her cleaning kit I figured it out. I smiled to myself as I realized, “She’s going to wash the windows!”
I continued to secretly watch her out the kitchen window as she pulled the stepping stool up to the back door, climbed up, and began cleaning.
I did not tell her that she needed to do a chore or that the windows needed to be cleaned. She did it all on her own
I was in shock for a moment until I realized that this was perfectly normal. This is what happens when you raise a helper.
My daughter taught me an important lesson that day. It was a lesson in being more deliberate with my actions.
I noticed that she wadded up her rags and worked in circles instead of folding it and working in up and down or side to side motions.
This is why it is so important to be a good model and always do things the exact way that you would like them to be done.
I should have taken my cues from my knowledge of Montessori principles and modeled a better cleaning technique than I had been – whoops!
Time to improve my example!
How to Raise a Helper: Tips to Get Started
The most important thing you can do to raise a helper is to allow your child to watch you work and help.
Yup… it’s really that simple!
Okay… maybe simple was the wrong word.
Modeling how work should be done and assisting your child can be tough. Sometimes it can even be painful.
Or is that just me?
I know it’s much easier to do it yourself when they are young. Please don’t.
You will be doing yourself (and your child) a grave disservice in the long run if you don’t allow them to help when they are young.
Children are natural imitators. They learn everything by watching us. This is why it is so important to allow them to watch you work from the time they are born.
When we tell kids to leave us alone when we are doing a chore we teach them that they aren’t good enough to help. We also teach them that they don’t need to help and that we will do everything for them.
Worst of all, we don’t give them the chance to learn by watching us.
Is it any wonder when we want them to help years later they don’t want to?
I’d rather suffer through the early years of allowing them to help than to suffer from them not helping at all later on.
I know that allowing them to help is more of a hinderance at first. Trust me when I tell you that those elongated moments of helping them help you don’t last.
How to Raise a Helper: My Little Helper
My daughter has been around us working since she was a baby. She has been trying to help us with everything since the moment she could walk.
Instead of telling her to leave us alone, we encourage her efforts and ask her to do simple things to help.
This means that most things will take longer to do. It also means that your children will makes mistakes, but so will we as parents. Mistakes are how we learn to do better the next time.
Our example is of not only how to do things, but of how to recover and move on when things don’t go well–even when we get upset.
There are pictures of my little one helping us all over this blog. Some of the best, along with more tips for raising a helper, can be found below.
- 15 Ways to Raise a Helper
- Tools for Raising Helpers
- DIY Chemical Free Cleaning Kit for Kids
- Plant a Tree
- DIY Outdoor Art Table & Mud Kitchen
- DIY Outdoor Chalkboard
- Planting Spring Flowers
- Plant Tomatoes
- Composting with Kids: Closing the Circle
- Turkey Vegetable Lasagna
How to Raise a Helper
Young children love to feel useful and want to help around the house. Allowing them to help, even when it makes it harder for us, encourages this aspect of their nature.
Be sure you check out 15 Ways to Raise a Helper and Tools for Raising Helpers, the second and third post in the raising helpers series with more to come. Sign up for my newsletter below so you don’t miss anything!
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