Kids and parents so often clash on what the kids are “big enough” for. You don’t want to be overprotective. You don’t want to spend the better part of your life picking up after your kids, long after they should have been capable of cleaning their own rooms. At the same time, you don’t want your children to cut themselves using sharp knives they weren’t ready to handle, or even to embarrass themselves fumbling through a writing workshop where everyone else is two years older.
What are the best ways to help your children learn life skills?
Preschoolers are typically eager to pitch in with “grown-up” chores, which can create a dilemma for parents. If you just say, “You’re too little,” they may lose all interest and then be resistant in future years when you want their help. If you give them free rein, they may make a complete mess of the job and leave you with triple work doing it over.
So don’t wait too long to start thinking about little things the kids can help with. Even three-year-olds can:
As soon as the kids show interest in your chores, invite them to help out on a level that suits them. Once they master that, introduce them to the next level up.
Too many eighteen-year-olds are moving into their first dorm room or apartment without knowing how to do much more than drive a car and do basic cleaning.
Before your kids reach the age of independence, guide them in learning how to also:
Think twice before automatically saying, “You’re too young” when a child expresses desire to try something new. Barring serious danger to life, limb, property, or budget, and assuming no blatant violation of law or house rules, there’s rarely any real reason kids shouldn’t experiment with whatever they wish. Even if their attempts end in a mess, the more valuable lesson is: It’s better to try and fall short than never try at all.
Make it clear that: