Friday, February 4, 2011

Teach It and They Will Learn

I am a busy Mama. Even my 3 year old says so. There is a lot to be done to make this house run smoothly. Each day I try to tackle the tasks out of love, but a lot of the time they just take on the appearance of a to-do list. But right behind me are four little eyes watching my every move. Four little hands just twitch with excitement. Will Mama let them help sweep? Will Mama let them carry their own cups to the sink? Can they join in the fun?

Yes! Of course!

The beautiful thing about encouraging toddlers to help is that the hard part is done - no motivation required. They want to help! They are excited to help! Harness that enthusiasm and give them a job. A wise mother of 8 once said to me that an 18-month-old can throw things away and put toys in a basket. Bella started with that, and has now graduated to other tasks, making room for Anastasia to pick up the simpler things. They feel important having a job that they can do. Choosing jobs that each can learn to complete well also builds proper self-esteem and confidence. That stubborn "I do it myself" attitude turns into "YES! You can do it yourself, and I will let you practice."

It is exhausting and time-consuming to let toddlers help. The job will certainly take at least twice as long and make for extra work for me afterward. Plates get spilled, dirt is flung, and someone is fighting over the sponge again. But we keep trying and finding new ways to adapt the chore for clumsy little hands (for the kids, too!) and one day there is a difference! One day you notice that the Big Girl is helping the Little Girl clear her own dish. She knows where the forks go and how to put her cup in the dishwasher. One day you hand her the towel and she wipes up her own mess and puts the towel with the dirty clothes. And you forgot to show her.


Blehnner said...

very cute & very true. I do think girls are more adept at helping with chores - I think boys want have the same enthusiasm, but girls end up doing the job more the way we would "envision" it, ha ha.