Parents want independent children. We insist on it while they are young, but when they reach adolescence, we discover that we have raised dependent youngsters. There are rooms that are only tidied up when mom or dad takes care of it—mountains of clothes that only become clean clothes if an adult intervenes. And, of course, academic courses that only progress when supervision is constant. Autonomy is a skill that children need to train as much as any other.
It is essential to understand that training autonomy does not mean denying support to a child who needs it. The concept is complex and evolves as it matures, so we must know how to interpret it at each stage.
Of course, it is evident that we will not allow them to develop their autonomy if we do not let them assume responsibilities. Household chores offer a huge variety of opportunities for children to work on things like commitment, duty, and caring for loved ones. There are so many things to do in a home that there are chores that fit all ages. Taking care of some jobs helps children train their autonomy, but it also makes them feel useful and taken into account. So when homework is everyone’s business, the climate at home is much healthier.
It is important that your children collaborate on household chores from a young age.
If you have never asked your child to make her bed, do not suddenly try to force her when she is fourteen years old. It will not work. The ideal is to start much earlier. At one point, all young children show an interest in what we do: cleaning a table, picking up dishes, taking out the trash, making the bed. However, they often find that mom or dad says, “you can’t.”
A two-year-old may not be able to set the table by himself, but he can carry some spoons and forks. Thus, promoting autonomy can be as simple as accompanying interest instead of curbing it. Preparing the environment by adjusting it to your capabilities makes it even easier.
Do you want your room to be tidy? It will be easier if there are not a lot of things that your child does not usually use. Is it time for you to start dressing? Leave clothes within reach and buy soft clothes, easy to put on and take off. Interested in clearing the table after eating?
When the environment is not full of obstacles, the child’s interest does the rest. Furthermore, by collaborating, they learn to concentrate and nurture their self-esteem, fundamental skills for their future.
The Brilliant Age-Based Chore Chart for Kids
put away toys
fill a pet’s food dish
put clothes in the hamper
wipe up spills
stack books on shelves
make beds on their own
clear the table
use a hand-held vacuum
help unload the dishwasher
set and clear the table
help put away groceries
load the dishwasher
put away laundry
take out the trash
take pets for walks
clean bathrooms and kitchen
do simple sewing and mending projects
cook a simple meal with an adult
do laundry on their own
prepare simple meals
undertake simple home projects
mow the lawn with supervision
change light bulbs
See the full chart at Family Handyman