Getting Children to Be Your Little Helpers

For most families, life is busy, busy, busy. Many years ago, when my children were young and I was teaching, I realized that to make the busy days a more happy time for my family, I had to feel happy myself. And the only way for that to happen was to enlist help.

Why getting children to help is important
– Children learn responsibility for family projects. Instead of expecting things to just “get done by mom”, children can learn that they are part of the family and as such need to pitch in to help with family chores.

– Children gain a sense of satisfaction knowing that they are contributing and helping. And hopefully they will carry this feeling with them as they grow into adults and help those less fortunate in their community.

– Working together bonds a family. Even less pleasant chores are more fun when family members are working side by side.

How to get children to help
– A family meeting is a good place to start. Outline for your children the jobs that need to be done and let them have some input on how they want to help. If children get to choose what they do, they will jump in with more enthusiasm and may actually enjoy what they are doing to help. I know that my daughters loved helping with the holiday cooking and baking and my son generally chose the less domestic activities.

– Select the jobs for your children to do that fit their abilities. Even young children can contribute to helping prepare for the holidays if the task is age and skill-appropriate. Be willing to work alongside your child to start so that he has a clear idea of what he will be doing. You can assess his ability to complete the task if you begin by working with him. Finally, your child will likely be more willing to jump in if he knows exactly what to do.

– Set your child up for success. Regardless of the size of the task, break it down into manageable pieces for your child. Brainstorm the steps needed to complete the task so your child has an idea of how to start and what to do.

– Keep an eye on your child as he works to complete the chore. Some encouraging words, such as “looking good” or “that’s a big help, thanks” can make children feel good about the job they are doing. Also, by checking in on your child’s progress you can possibly foresee a potential problem and intervene to help your child avoid it.

-Make sure you child has strong listening skills so that he can properly execute the directions you give him. Between activities, consider working with your child on some following directions worksheets to help ensure he has keen listening skills.
Renee Abramovitz is a a former preschool and kindergarten teacher who retired in 2008 to become a “full-time grandma” to her four beautiful grandsons. She is passionate about the idea that all parents are their child’s first and most important teacher and strives to give parents the tools and confidence they need to successfully work with their children at home.

Visit Renee at for information on helping your child develop important school-readiness skills. On her site you’ll find a free kindergarten readiness test plus hundreds of free kindergarten worksheets.
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  • Donna Yates , February 4, 2012

    This is a wonderful post. My son is an adult now, but I see that one of the problems in getting him to do things was to break the project into smaller parts. Wish I'd known this then. Your friend Donna from Believe in Yourself Community

  • Sandy Keith , February 4, 2012

    From the time my kids entered kindergarten, they had certain chores that had to be done. My husband and I didn't give them a choice. They whined and complained. Then they grew up and had kids and now their kids have certain chores that have to be done. I guess what goes around comes around.

  • Cascia Talbert , February 5, 2012

    All my kids help out around the house. It builds character and teaches them about teamwork. Every night before they go to bed all the kids clean their playroom together. Usually the whole family joins in including my husband, myself and our teenage daughter. The kids also help out setting the dinner table.

    Great article, Renee! Thanks for sharing this.

  • Lisa -The Domestic Life Stylist , February 6, 2012

    Great tips Renee! I do not discriminate against small hands either. My little 2 year old is already helping to put away toys and unload the dishwasher. As my mom used to say “No one here is your servant”. Translation, everyone needs to pitch in.

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