It does not have to be a chore! Remember the time your child tried to wash a pair of socks, a spoon or used up all your tissue roll to clean up a drop of water…
It did not feel like a chore and that is a good time to let them and guide them. Granted, using up all the tissue roll to clean and spilling water all over the floor from washing can be quite upsetting but not if we put our emotions aside and look for the positives hard as it may be.
Think about a 3-year-old child joyfully offering to clean up the table after a meal, put the remnants of their meal in the trash, put away their water bottles and offer to help others because it was fun.
It’s never too late to start; if you started early and do not seem to be getting the result you hope to see, please keep at it because you do not want a grown up that cannot do anything for themselves.
Whether your child is grumbling or happy to get a house task done please note that you are setting them up for a benefit of a life time- that’s the focus. I agree that things change and you may question the relevance of certain things, your smart children will be quick to point you in the direction of relevance vs. irrelevance. I am sure you may have witnessed or been involved in some of the scenarios below:
Child: why do I need to do the dishes when there is a dish washer
Parent: think about camping or being in a place without a dishwasher
Child: But we have a house staff
Parent: imagine if they did not show up because they were ill
Child: It hurts when I wash with my hands
Parents: Being in college without clean clothes to wear is not pretty
The above scenarios are intended for humour but I am sure you get my point and before you say “I have it all covered” - I recently watched a movie where the mother said to her teenage son “you will have to wash the dishes by hand, the dishwasher broke”. Imagine my joy when my children heard that line!
With washing machines, Vacuum cleaners, robotic cleaning devices, Alexa and an endless list of things that can help us with our daily lives, knowing what to do when faced with a real situation can be a life saver.
My recommendation however when starting off is:
Be patient- these things take time, and can be hard to comprehend for a child no matter the age.
Appropriate timing- think about when you were their age, doing the dishes when your friends were playing was not always fun.
Determine what’s relevant with a good sense of reason- Times have changed and children cannot always tell what is good for them so they will object if it does not make sense.
They will question why they have to wash the dishes by hand when there is a dish washer and some days it will not be wrong to use the dishwasher and let them take a break.
Be open to change (being rigid can affect the process)
Establish open communication lines because children will like to know- If you get asked mummy why are you not doing the dishes, it’s not a time to get mad but a good time to remind your child of countless times when you have done the dishes and perhaps do the dishes with your child that day, that may be a good way to motivate them.
Remember the idea is to teach a life skill not punish !