Thursday, October 14, 2010


In our years of working with youth, my husband and I have noticed a common theme. Those young men and women who tend to be the most responsible, respectful and overall best youth all know how to work. Somewhere along the way, their parents, or whomever instilled this great quality in them.

Recently, Elder Christofferson spoke on the value of hard work in consecrating our lives. He said,

"By work we sustain and enrich life. It enables us to survive the disappointments and tragedies of the mortal experience. Hard-earned achievement brings a sense of self-worth. Work builds and refines character, creates beauty, and is the instrument of our service to one another and to God. A consecrated life is filled with work, sometimes repetitive, sometimes menial, sometimes unappreciated but always work that improves, orders, sustains, lifts, ministers, aspires."

For the past few months, I have been trying to slowly instill the importance of work and responsibility in my little girl. At almost-three, I feel like she is finally getting it a bit.

Here are a few of our tips and techniques for having even the littlest of family members pitch in:

Involve them. At the point that we are at, it is almost easier to just do things myself. Some of the time, by involving a child you are just creating more work for yourself. However, they will never learn if they are not involved in the process.

Keep it at their level. The littlest helpers are probably not ready to tackle a sink full of dishes. There are, however, lots of jobs that they can do, and pretty well for that matter. Setting and clearing the table, emptying the silverware basket, wiping off surfaces and picking up after themselves are just a few of the many basic things that the little ones can help with.
Make it fun. With an attention span the size of a pea, it is essential to liven things up. There are plenty of cleaning songs out there and little ones always like a race. Liven things up and you're sure to keep them around a bit longer.

Get the right tools. Best thing I ever did was purchase a dust buster. When Hannah needs something to do, I send her to every corner of the house with that thing. She is occupied and is finding all of the hidden cobwebs at the same time. We also have a Shark vacuum for our tile and wood, and whenever that comes out Hannah is all over it.

With a little supervision, clorox and windex wipes are another great tool to have on hand. I can set my toddler up to a bathroom sink and let her go to town. The countertop has never been so sanitary as when she is in charge.

Help them be accountable. Whether it is a chore chart or certain things that have to be done each day, be consistent and hold them accountable. Recently, we introduced the "toy fairy" to our daughter. She comes each night and snags toys that have been left out, or so the story goes. Our bedtime routine now includes a few minutes to make sure that all of her toys are in their proper place, as to not have to deal with the wrath of the "toy fairy".

Have reasonable expectations. At this point in the game, I don't think we should be grading our little helpers on the job they've done. Rather, we're trying to involve and teach them the value of work. Expect them to help, not to do the job completely.

There you have it! My tips and techniques for teaching even the littlest hands to participate in the work. What things have worked for your family? I'd love to hear.


Shannon said...

I love this post! It think it's something that a lot of kids are not taught. Something I've always tried to remember when I feel like it would be easier just for me to do it is that Heavenly Father lets us help, even though it would probably be easier for Him to just do it Himself. (I hope that makes sense.)

Jason and Abby said...

Terrific post! I couldn't agree more!!

Anonymous said...

I have four children an 8, 7, 5 and 2 yr olds. My 8 and 7 yr olds keep there room picked up, make there beds, get up in the morning to an alarm clock and get themselves ready for school, they also fold there own clothes and put them away. I am starting to teach my 5 yr old the same things. As my children get older they will get more and more responsibilities around the house.
The way my husband and I see it, we as parents are suppose to be teaching our children how to be good, responsible, respectable adults. We can not do everything for our children and then just expect them to know it all when they turn 18.

Amanda said...

Amen! Yes, teach them to work, it's part of our job as parents to teach our kids to live in the real world and teaching them to work is part of that. We are also giving them life lessons on how to contribute to a household and family. By all means most of the time it is easier for us to just do it ourselves, but do we really want to have to come to our kids houses when they grow up and try to teach them to work when they are older? Nope! They learn so much better at a young age! I feel sorry for those kids that don't have to do anything for themselves.

Naomi said...

just found your blog - love it! shared this link on my facebook page I thought it was so good! Naomi x

Anonymous said...


I am so grateful for the fact that we taught our children from a young age to work around the home and get themselves ready for their day. it was sometimes very hard and like you say it often meant a bigger job for me.
It all made it worth while when my 'then' husband was away and I became very ill. my pride stops me from calling on sisters in the ward but instead relying on my children who rose to the challenge. at the time they were 10 8 and 6. i called my 10 year old to my room and explained i was to sick to get up and that he needed to be in charge. The children all got themselves dressed, got breakfast, made lunches, my oldest ran to the supermarket to pick up some supplies, they made their beds, tidied up the kitchen and walked to school without me once giving an instruction. I heard no raised voices or teary faces. They all just did what they knew they could already do.
What might take a little extra time teaching now will enable your children with confidence and responsiblity when it matters the most.


Michelle said...

Love this! With my little girls we play our cleaning game called "cinderella". So we take turns playing the "stepmom" and take turns playing "cinderella" where the stepmom tells cinderella what to clean and she does it while singing (but stepmom does clean alongside cinderella in our game). My girls love it!

Farmers Wifey said...

Great post, I am only just getting my kids to help with a chore chart I am doing up.....because I am a part time working mum and I think we all should do a bit to help....It's working okay so far..

Messy Jess said...

GREAT post!

Mary Anne said...

Loved these simple tips. I am love when I say "Sadie, time to clean up your toys" and she gets right to it...while singing the "clean up" song that she must have learned in nursery :) At our house (and probably most others) her toys have certain bins that they go in, and she totally understands the concept and knows where everything goes. Kids love to put things in little cubbies. I love that. I also got Sadie a smaller broom that she can use to help me sweep. She puts the soap in the dishwasher and closes the door. She throws away her own diapers. With age her responsibilities will obviously grow (still don't trust her with a toilet wand! :), and I think it's true that involving them in age-appropriate ways is so important. I makes THEM feel important to do a good job. Thanks for the reminder! I could do better.

Kat said...

Awesome post, and so true. I'm forever grateful that my parents taught me to work hard and do each job well. So important to pass that on to our kids.

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