North Dakota State University
NDSU Extension Service

Let Me Help

Including children in household chores gives them hands-on learning through routine tasks while they share the family work load and learn responsibility. Chores help children develop eye-hand coordination, organize sequences, understand how parts make up the whole and learn to solve problems. Children learn best through natural life experiences like chores that they can relate to and interact with. Everyday tasks can be an enjoyable way to spend quality time with your child. And it's a better way to help your child prepare for school than memorization or worksheets on numbers, letters or words.

A general rule in teaching self-help skills is Don't do things for children that they can do by themselves. However, that doesn't mean expecting your child to work independently. You need to have reasonable expectations and provide patient guidance. What is reasonable to expect for one child may be totally unrealistic for another. To determine what is reasonable for your child, look at your values, then consider your child's age, temperament, experiences and learning style.

Children learn to be responsible in small steps. First, children need to observe parents doing the task. Next, allow the child to help with a job. Then, observe the child while he carries out the job. The patience required to stand by, hands at your sides, while the child struggles with what seems a simple task will pay off as he gains confidence and skills. This leads to the child's willingness and ability to help. Next, the child will do a task with limited reminding or supervision. In setting the table, he may forget the napkins or spoons and need your prompting, "Let's check to see if we have everything we need." Finally, the child will be able to do the job independently and completely without reminders.

Positive Approaches to Help Your Child Assume Responsibility

Think of common tasks in which to involve preschoolers: dress self, brush teeth, pick up belongings, put dirty clothes away, hang up clean clothes, make bed, wipe spills, set table, fix simple snacks, wash dishes, carry boxed or canned goods from the grocery sacks to reachable storage shelf, help feed pets, sort laundry, measure ingredients.

Think of the variety of skills to be learned. Home can be an important learning environment. Use it!

This newsletter is published for North Dakota families with preschoolers by the NDSU Extension Service and distributed through your county extension office. See your extension agent for more parenting information and other home economics programs.

Parenting Preschoolers, Issue No. 14

NDSU Extension Service, North Dakota State University of Agriculture and Applied Science, and U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Sharon D. Anderson, Director, Fargo, North Dakota. Distributed in furtherance of the Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. We offer our programs and facilities to all persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, age, Vietnam era veterans status, or sexual orientation; and are an equal opportunity employer.
This publication will be made available in alternative format for people with disabilities upon request (701) 231-7881.

North Dakota State University
NDSU Extension Service