Parents roles are to support children when they need it and phase out that support as children are more able to do tasks on their own. Roles include toileting, dressing and taking care of their own toys are skills developed when they are younger. As they get older, responsibilities should increase along with privileges so children are able to learn independence skills to phase out of dependence of adults to only verbal reminders. This is a task that is so much easier said than done and is a continuous, unrelenting process, sigh…
In order to help with this process, starting from a young age is important. Toddlers can begin by helping to put toys away, taking clothes off and putting them in the laundry and brushing their teeth first themselves then with help. The more processes are done with them as the lead will be less that they may think is “your job” which is important to note for later on. As preschoolers, children can take on more like getting dressed on their own, cleaning up room and other jobs like putting dishes in the dishwasher, dusting or folding laundry. As they get older, jobs like putting laundry away, dishes and helping to make meals or clean up meals can be part of what children do at home. The more household skills they can help with the more skills they will have for later on when they may need to do this task on their own. The more responsibilities they have the more they will be able to handle as they grow and this will reduce the expectations of what parents need to do for them. Which reduces the “my mom forgot to put my lunch in my bag” in middle school where most teachers respond who needs to get your lunch? The more parents do for their children, the more children feel is “their” (parents) job and not take responsibility. For example, if parents always pick up dishes after a child, they will begin to feel that picking up after themselves is not their job and may be confused when getting reprimanded.
Again it may not get easier as they get older. Toddlers LOVE to help and will do any chore that you let them and if you keep up that “habit” of helping it may lend itself to having a habit of being helpful as they get older. Yet, sometimes as they grow, the idea of chores may lose its novelty and children may be capable of doing the job but the desire is lacking. Don’t give up! Learning these skills is important and does so much more for the self worth of your child then it even helps with the household. When children emerge into adulthood without having the opportunity of learning to do household tasks for themselves they may find that it is hard to do work/household jobs and play and do activities (IMAGINE THAT). It can be very stressful, overwhelming and self defeating if most of the tasks are difficult for them or they don’t have a lot of experience needing to balance these tasks with work and activities. Help them, help themselves to have skills to learn balance from the beginning.
When children can take responsibility for some of the tasks beginning from a young age, increase their roles into adolescence then they are better able to take on more (ALL) as they emerge into adulthood and it is not such a difficulty to balance their life and all of the work that comes with it.
By Tiffany Madsen