Whose Job Is It Anyway?


Does anyone remember how many times they cleaned up after their kids? How about putting clothes in the hamper, picking up towels from the floor, putting plates in the dishwasher, looking for book bags and shoes while the school bus is waiting, finding a favorite article of clothing just when it’s time to leave… and the list goes on. There are a couple of ideas that underlie these types of situations. Questions like, when is a child old enough to be more responsible or statements like it’s easier if I do it myself, often get in the way of teaching children to be responsible and self-managing. In an optimal, planned parenting approach, the skills needed to develop these types of expected child responsibilities begin at a very early age. Even 2 and 3-year-olds can learn to pick something up and put it where it belongs. This ability to “sort” is easily taught through play and modeling. Children actually enjoy sorting, and our appreciation for efforts in this area quickly reinforces their behavior. “Sorting” is actually a skill that is the precursor for our later ability to be organized, to plan, and to more comfortably manage our responsibilities. Picking up after our children (either parent or housekeeper) actually interferes with the development of personal responsibility, and can sometimes have long term consequences for self- management as a student. The more we appropriately expect, the more they learn, and the more they can do.

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