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How to get your child to want to help out at home

Shutterstock-Daniel Jedzura
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Tips for when your child doesn’t want to be helpful.

Assuming that your child will learn how to help on his own is an illusion. A three-year-old will gladly lend a hand, but those who are older will try to get out of it. They will grumble and only help with a lot of reluctance. “I am busy!” “I already did this last week!” and “It’s always me that you ask, it’s not fair!”

So, should you give up? Say that things would go much faster if you did it all yourself? Not at all: making your child help out is a long-term job, which requires patience and perseverance. Teaching how to be altruistic begins with learning how to do daily home chores. 

Thank and encourage your child

Forgoing selfishness is really hard. It is a process that begins from the earliest age and does not quite ever end. Teaching your children how to set aside an activity that they enjoy for a space of a few minutes is to help them let go of their selfishness. In making your children more attentive to family needs you will develop their awareness of others.

Patience, consistency, and endurance do not exclude fantasy and fun. Actually, it is possible to make it easier for your children to want to help out. For example, in proposing them to choose one chore out of 10 on the list, you can set up small family councils that encourage dialogue: once a week, examine the results in a somewhat official setting, congratulating and remedying things that leave a lot to be desired. If lending a hand is a part of life, then saying thank you in the right way is indispensable.

One does not exist without the other. A thank you to complement a task well done is an encouragement to continue. You should also be careful not to discourage your children: plates and forks cannot be as perfectly set on the table as you wish. Why not have fun helping your child to do things right?

Above all what counts is to show an example

How can we help out our children as their parents? Are we there when they need us? Do we know how to stop whatever we are doing to help them or to listen to them? Do we agree to “waste” some of our time in sitting down with them to tell them a story or play with them? What example do we offer them as a couple? Do we ourselves know how to help out? Are we attentive to the needs of our loved ones? How do we react when our partner needs something? Do we, like an accountant, keep our tally of everything?  Are we open and available to the others, to our old parents? When we know that most lessons are learned through example, that we provide, it is vital that we ask ourselves how altruistic we are toward the other.

In 2001, in his apostolic address on the duties of a Christian family, St. John Paul II reminded us that “Family is the school of mankind. This is done through providing help daily to each other”. Let us always keep these precious words in our hearts!

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