People are often surprised when I tell them that Tallie, my 19 month old, helps to unload the dishwasher every morning (everything but knives). “Doesn’t she drop the dishes?” Nope. She knows how to carefully hold the dishes with 2 hands and hand them to whoever the “putter-awayer” is at the time. She sees it as her job. It makes her feel proud and useful.
Children can’t learn to be responsible if they aren’t given responsibilities. Even young children can contribute. It translates to other parts of their lives too. If Tallie spills water on the floor, she gets a towel and cleans it up (she’s a toddler, so this happens a lot). If she dumps out her blocks, she puts them away. If her brother is crying (and sometimes even when he’s not), she’ll give him his binkie or pat him on the head. And when she sees a scrap of paper or tissue on the floor, she loves to go to the trash can and throw it out. Yes, she really likes to do this.
As the Powerful Word of the Month is responsibility this month, I’d love to know: What jobs do you give to your children? What was the first job you gave to them? How has your attitude towards sharing responsibility with your children helped to shape their current attitude towards responsibility?
Adult responsibility depends on early responsibility. These little jobs are an investment in her future. Yes, Tallie might make mistakes and she may even make a bigger mess at times in her effort to help– but the point is, she’s learning. We are creating a blueprint for the character concept of responsibility that urges her to find a way to lend a hand. And you know what? While it may take more time to have my daughter help us put things away, over time, it really is a big help. I’d love to hear your thoughts here or on my Facebook fan site.