Little helping hands

Updated: Nov 20, 2019

My wee is in full helpful / copying mode, that's where they want to do what you're doing , be it feeding themselves to helping sweep up with their own dust pan and brush. It's great. The I do it instinct is a wonderful phase that I highly encourage you to encourage in them. In every way that you can especially as they are willing and able too. Nothing is too small or big to get them to help in. Be it getting their shoes to helping pick up toys.

Children should learn to help around the house. Otherwise it's you constantly picking up after them , no matter what age. I feel it gives them a sense of achievement when they are small and responsibility when older. I have three teens who groan and complain when I make them cook, clean up their rooms and do their own laundry but as one is 18 now and at some point will strike out on his own, I feel there are valuable lesson and I grow deaf to the whinging ! Obviously jobs should be age appropriate and fun when they are little. I try to get my wee one involved in my daily chores . And to be quite frank , she gets herself involved whether I like it or not. Here is how she slotted in to family tasks over the months

When she was little and wanting to feed herself, I gave her a spoon , she persevered and now won't accept food from a spoon from me. Everything else is hands on food as we do baby led and she not quite there with a fork and stabbing it yet . To wash her face and eating area, both her and I have a cloth , she wipes my face and I hers. It saves the squirming and fight that ensues if I try to clean her up. I wipe down her area ( with separate cloth ) and then she does the same. When everyone is home for family dinner , she has cottoned on to cleaning the plates away and is focussed on taking hers to the sink.

I noticed that she likes to sweep up, so found a wee brush her size and she sweeps along behind me. She loves to help to put things in the bin and is constantly putting items that don't need to be thrown away in it too , like her brothers shoes and pieces of toys ! She also likes to take things out and I constantly find paper and cat food tins strewn around the kitchen. So I guess you can be too diligent and enthusiastic about chores ! She now get annoyed if I do it without her. So I have a 'saved up' pile that she puts in one by one in to the bins. We have different coloured bins for different waste, I get her to put the plastics in the right bin and the other in land waste. Im teaching her subconsciously to recycle. Yahhh

I also am not allowed to wash laundry, hang it out and or collect it in without her. I have to wait till she sleeping if there is more than one load. She loves to put the laundry in , and push the buttons. She hangs out ( not well ) the laundry if inside and hands me the pegs if outside. Same with the dishwasher, she puts the tablet in, turns on the buttons and helps me with items that are safe to stack and unstack.

She carries in the rolls of toilet paper for shopping and unpacks the bags and rearranges my pantry on a daily basis. Plus we all the know the fun that can be had ( with forward planning ) getting them to help with the actual shopping. From holding the list to putting items in the trolley, I have to hand stuff to her and she puts it in while sitting pretty up front. When they are older they can get items off shelves and hold things for you. A teaching moment can be incorporated with counting items and doing colours. If paying in cash they can figure out change if of a school age or early Maths etc.

Im using this want to help to getting her to tidy up. It started at a few classes we attended where bigger kids tidy up the musical instruments, and the floor tiles at the end. She wants in on that action! The tiles are bigger than her but she is determined to stack them up. I am utilising this in the home as at night I get her to do some of her toys. When I was nannying it was wonderful when we did the big playdates that had many different ages and just before dinner all the kids raced around and tidied up all the toys that they had spread around the playroom. It was a game, a race to get it done. They almost cleaned it better than I could.

I have also found to make it fun and always a learning experience in what ever you are doing. I sing. There is even a tidy up song that someone will be able to teach you or will get sung in a class at the end. Clean Up, Clean Up , Everybody, Everywhere, Clean Up, Clean Up , Everybody do your share! It will stay with you now... And I vocalise what I’m doing, like count the toys being thrown in to a basket. Saying the colours of the bricks being put back. All the information in a learning moment , goes in and is processed and remembered.

Lastly she wants to get herself dressed, she chooses her clothes and we put them on together with her helping with what she can. This goes to coat and shoes. There are a few hiccups but mostly her doing it herself , choosing her items, it side-steps the lack of control feeling in them and ensuing tantrums that can come from wanting to be in charge of their bodies and surroundings.

In allowing them space and time to learn a task, to practise and have a go, whether they get it right first time or not instils confidence and achievement in them. To feel grown up in their world. To be doing what you're doing gives them a place in the family. To receive praise and a clap, a hug, a high five ( my wee ones chosen form of a hand clap ) or a smile and thank you. Teaches them value in society, even it be a small circle of family and friends. I have an attitude that I have adopted over the years of chid caring that I find is effective. Having faith in your child and assuming that they can do it. Allowing her to try and show she can if she is so inclined. If the opportunity arises that I can let her try something on an occasion , I will. They feel that belief in them from you, hear the encouragement and get that fire in their belly that says, ok I will! Mostly they are literally desperate to join in, to show off and do it ''by myself'' . They live and love the smile on your face when you say good girl or boy when they achieve it, even slightly and will try and try again till they have.

Encourage them to participate. Help them to accomplish what ever it is they or you want them to do. Give them approval in what ever way you want to , so they want to do it again. It's a wonderful quality to infuse in your Childs psyche, that you think they can and will support them in doing something. So they think they can and feel safe in trying new things. This will lead them through life positively.

For my wee one I will try to install this desire to want to help Mummy as much as possible, even if I have to go along behind her 'redoing it' sometimes. I want her to feel like she is valuable. I know this helpfulness wanes soon enough but when and if we have a new wee one, I'm going to need little helping hands !

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