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Creating a Sense of Responsibility Through Chores

My little helper "cooking" with mommy.

My little helper “cooking” with mommy.

As my little girl grows we have been hitting the typical milestones that go with the development of an almost 4-year-old. I have witnessed how my little flower has blossomed with pride and a lot of fun. However, with growing also comes the increased understanding of our world, and for my girl that meant learning to tell the difference of a fun activity and a chore.

Just a few months ago I had the first experience in which my daughter just said she would not pickup her toys. The playful “cleanup, cleanup…” song did not do the trick anymore and she threw a tantrum. I was surprised at first and asked why wouldn’t she want to help, and her response was that she didn’t make that mess; it was her cousin.

That’s when it hit me. It was time to start teaching my little girl responsibility in a broader way. So, I was firm and told her she had to organize everything because this was her room and she needs to make sure when her cousins come to play they don’t make a big mess. If they do, and she allows it, it is her responsibility to pickup and make sure everything is in its place.

She started crying, saying, “Abi doesn’t want to.” However, after realizing I was not changing my mind, she wiped her tears and started to pick the toys up, still saying she would not do it. However, within a few seconds she was happy and proud of herself for getting her room pretty. She even made me close my eyes before I could take a look and I could tell she felt a sense of accomplishment.

Learning new skills 

Months after that initial assignment, my daughter no longer refuses to help. If anything, she is more eager to do more than picking up toys, and is proud to be a big girl now. I’ve seen what a difference it makes when children have a structure and have some sort of responsibility.

It is important to assign age-appropriate tasks, because it will boost their self-esteem knowing they are capable. I’ve also found that this has help model cooperation and an overall well-behaved attitude. She now listens more and understands when she asks for something and I say she can have it later or simply that she cannot have it.

There are few things my daughter has learned since she was assigned a chore and I think most parents will see the benefits way beyond the chore itself. Some of the improvements I’ve seen within months are:

  • She has learned to be more independent, picking her own clothes, brushing her teeth without being told to.
  • Knowing she is a contributor in the household, that we all have a role and she has to do her part
  • Understanding the difference of an organize area and a messy one
  • Identifying when her hair needs to be comb instead of throwing a tantrum not to have it done
  • Being responsible overall and having a more structured day, which prevents her for getting bored

Have you assigned chores to your kids? What are the benefits you have experienced?

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