When my oldest was 7, washing the dishes was an event.
She would play with the bubbles and the stream of water, splash in the sink and enjoy rubbing the sponge over the plates. If I turned my back once, half the bottle of dish soap would be squirted into the sink. She was having fun but she was learning life skills.
It took her three times longer to do the job I would have done, but she was learning valuable lessons: How to wash dishes AND enjoy it.
Children seem to want to help when it is the most inconvenient for them to do so. Three-year-olds are eager to help clean and work. They are also the least able to do a decent job, as measured by mom’s standards. With encouragement, their enthusiasm can continue as they expand their life skills.
When my kids would complain about chores, I would remind them that we all serve each other. I serve them and their father. Their father serves each of us. Children serve their parents and each other. Jesus served all of us! When we serve each other, we serve the kingdom of Christ.
It is true that I could complete the children’s work more quickly and efficiently. It would also look cleaner around my house. But by allowing them to experience work and service in the context of a loving home, they will be ready for a world that requires their work and service.
I didn’t look for perfection in their work – just progress and a cheerful attitude.
When we parents are diligent in training them at home, it will equip them to be diligent in the world.
What are the little things you can do to teach life skills to even the youngest child to serve and help?
Read my book as a resource guide to your own life skill training: Life Skills for Kids