You may not relish doing the cleaning or washing the dishes but young children love to do these things. Getting involved in the life of the home helps them to start to feel part of the family and being part of the family sets them on a path where they start to become aware that they are responsible for their actions.
Create an environment with activities that appeal to your child.
Your child loves doing the things that you do. This helps her to understand the routines and ways of the life she is becoming a part of. This makes her feel secure and happy and because she is more connected to life she starts to become aware of the consequences of the things that she does.
Activities that your child will enjoy doing centre around two things. The first involves looking after herself because this makes her feel more independent. The second is related to looking after the home and its surroundings. By getting involved in these activities she starts to understand how that your family works by co-operating and working together. The sort of things your child loves to do include:
Dusting, sweeping, mopping, polishing, washing, and cleaning
Folding up and putting away clothes and hanging clothes to dry
Preparing food, making bread, setting the table, washing and drying dishes
Shopping, carrying, putting away food and organising cupboards
In order to make it possible for your child to do these things around the home it will be necessary to make things accessible to her. In order to do this you will need to:
Provide child-sized utensils—brushes, brooms, cloths, bowls, mops etc.
Place these in a cupboard that is low enough for your child to access for himself with doors that he can easily open.
Provide a sturdy but light stool that your child can put in places that will give him access to the work surfaces that he would not be able to reach otherwise.
Show her how to do these activities
You can show your young child how to do many things around the home if you bear a few things in mind.
Demonstrate slowly when showing how to do something
Make sure that you follow a clear sequence
Do not talk while you are showing your child what to do
Tell your child you are going to show him how to do something and then show it but don't do both at the same time so that your child can either watch your hands or listen to your voice, but is not expected to do both at the same time
Use eye contact and a smile between steps to help your child stay engaged
Let your child try for himself
To start with you may need to help a little and collaborate in the activity but you should aim to do as little as possible
Gradually withdraw your help so that your child finds himself doing it all by himself.
Your child will not work in the same way that you do of course. Some things will take her much longer because she is not focussed on getting the job finished as you are. She is more interested in being immersed in the processes. In fact, the end result may be messier than when she began, with soap and water on the floor. The process is far more important to her inner growth than having clean floors.
Making time for your child to continue with the things she is interested in doing can be difficult at times but it is essential for her development. We all need time to focus on something, uninterrupted, if we are going to perfect it and this is no different for small children. When young children are allowed to carry out the things they are interested in doing with their hands they gradually gain control over their bodies. Being in control of their bodies helps them to start to be in control of their behaviour too.