Teaching children to be helpful is similar to teaching basic skills such as reading and arithmetic. You can’t simply give instructions to a four-year-old and expect him or her to memorize the multiplication tables. Nor can you expect a child to spontaneously perform household tasks without supervision.
From the moment a child can walk, you can involve him in simple tasks. This can vary from indicating shoes to helping with stirring while cooking. The Nahua mother who spoke with Rebeca Mejía-Arauz emphasizes the importance of showing, encouraging and asking for help in developing helpfulness in children.
Task choice and encouragement
The tasks you ask a child to perform must be meaningful and contribute to family life. At the same time, they must be almost feasible for the child. This means that you take the child’s interests and abilities into account and show gratitude for the help provided.
Cooperation over obedience
The goal is not obedience, but cooperation. If a child decides not to help, that choice must be respected. In this way, the child learns about cooperation and shares in family responsibilities without coercion.
The process: 1 of 1000
The point is that children learn and develop over time. Like Era, who happily helps with the vacuuming, this is seen as a learning process, not a one-time feat of perfection.
You learn to be helpful through exemplary behavior, encouragement and asking for help with real tasks that contribute to family life.
Tasks should be close to achievable for the child, and parents should be open to the child’s preferences.
Teaching helpfulness is a process that focuses on cooperation and respect for the child’s autonomy, where the goal is to get children to actively participate in family dynamics.