Enlisting the aid of your preschooler to help with household chores may sound like a chore in itself, but this does not have to be so.
There are numerous ways in which you and your preschooler can work together; teaching them important life skills, responsibility, personal hygiene and important social skills.
A contributing member
Teaching a preschooler to be a contributing member of the family requires you to be patient, less of a perfectionist and willing to take the time to explain the ‘hows and whys’ of what you want done.
The ‘watch me so you will know what to do…someday’ doesn’t cut it with a preschooler. They want to be in the thick of things working side by side with you or accomplishing something on their own to help you.
Be willing to settle for less
You need to be willing to settle for less than perfectly folded towels, a table set with the forks on the right or even at the top of the plate.
Their bed will be made with plenty of wrinkles, but made, none the less. The dog’s water bowl will be filled…partially and the books on their book-shelf will be turned this way and that. But it’s a great start and you should be proud of their efforts.
Don’t expect much from a preschooler who is told to clean their room, set the table, put their laundry away or play nicely. You need to be specific; put your books on the shelf, put a fork and a spoon next to each plate, tear the lettuce into pieces and put it in this big bowl….
Ideas to get you started
There are numerous ways your preschooler can help with household chores. Here are just a few ideas to help you get started in teaching and training your child to be responsible and helpful.
Kitchen duty house chores:
1. Enlist your preschooler’s help in putting away non-breakables and lower-level dishes when you empty the dishwasher.
2. Let your preschooler wash raw fruits and veggies for cutting and slicing.
3. Let your preschoolers tear lettuce, measure shredded cheese and toss the salad.
4. Preschoolers can set the table.
5. Let your little ones help you put away the groceries.
Laundry time house chores:
1. Preschoolers can fold towels and washcloths as well as match up socks and fold underwear.
2. Preschoolers can ‘deliver’ piles of laundry to family members to be put away.
3. Your preschooler can sort laundry into piles for washing with your instruction. (put everything that is white in one pile and all of your play clothes in another pile)
1.Preschoolers can pick up their toys. Do play music for them to work to.
2. Preschoolers can help dust furniture and run the vacuum.
3. Preschoolers can make their beds. No, they won’t be neat and perfect but they will be made.
1.Preschoolers can wash their bodies in the tub or shower.
2. Preschoolers can brush their teeth.
3. Giving preschoolers a choice between two outfits each day develops their decision-making capabilities.
4. Preschoolers can wash their face and hands before and after meals.
Praise and reward
In addition to teaching your preschooler to be helpful and responsible, you need to be conscious of their need to be praised and rewarded for their efforts and accomplishments.
Praising and rewarding the efforts and accomplishments of your preschooler around the house serves to encourage them to persevere, shows them you appreciate and respect their hard work.
Praise should come in the form of words such as ‘Way to go’, ‘Great job’, ‘That looks great’ or ‘I am so proud of you’.
WARNING: praise should be sincere and earned
Telling a child they did a great job when they obviously put no effort into it does nothing but encourage laziness. It is important to differentiate between effort and non-effort, though. A bed with the covers barely pulled up and pillows on the floor show no effort to make their bed. On the other hand, a teddy bear resting on top of a pillow and mussed covers that clearly show evidence of being pulled up to the head of the bed…that is effort worth praising. A child who comes out of the tub muddy rather than clean…you get the point.
Rewarding a child for their contributions to the running of your household should be earned and should be comparable to the jobs done. For instance: an allowance of $2 per week is a reasonable allowance for a 3-5 year old. An allowance of $10 per week is a bit extravagant.
It is important for you to teach your children that their allowance is not a gift or something they deserve or are entitled to, but rather something that they earn for a job well done.
Teaching your preschoolers the value of a strong work ethic is a priceless gift-one that will serve them well throughout their entire life.
Children whose parents instill this valuable character trait are children who grow up to be productive adults and are most often the ones found in upper management.