Children build their self-confidence through learning small, real life skills.
“Me do.” My toddler pushed away my hand and reached for the zipper on the front of her fuzzy, footed pajamas.
Does a parent insist on helping or let those immature fingers take twice as long to do what I can do in a heartbeat?
Remembering I am raising adults, whenever possible I allow my child to do what they can for themselves. Investing time now to teach a skill saves countless hours in the future and equips my child with essential abilities. But the biggest benefit is how a child is impacted by being able to do things independently. Confidence is built when we know how do to something. When we can trust ourselves to accomplish what we set out to do.
My daughter knew how to do laundry so when the child she was babysitting got sick, my daughter confidently put the bedding into the wash and remade the bed for her small charge. She is the favorite sitter because she learned and practiced skills at home that she will use where ever she goes the rest of her life.
Children feel secure when they know they are an intrinsic part of the family. Chores provide opportunities to build confidence as a child learns life-long skills, demonstrates mastery, and is a participating and important part of the family. Relationally, when responsibilities are shared, everyone better remembers that I am the mom, not the maid.
Encourage your child’s development by allowing him to do the tasks he is able to do for himself.
- Clearly and gently teach your child age appropriate skills.
- Have fun working together.
- Recognize effort with words like, “You did very well.” Their confidence grew as a result of knowing they could do a lot of valuable life skills.
To Introduce a New Skill
- Break tasks into simple steps
- Do the task together until your child is proficient
- Don’t require perfection
- Praise effort
- Don’t redo your child’s work
- Inspect what you expect
Post a chore chart each child can follow without daily reminding. Use pictures for younger children. For instance, a drawing of a bed reminds a preschooler to make the bed. The figure of a dog, cat, or goldfish represents feed your pet.
Once a child proved their dependability at home by doing their chores and schoolwork without being told (aka, nagged), they earned the privilege to work outside the home. They were the favorites for pet sitting and caring for the mail and houseplants when neighbors traveled.
As your child grows and gains abilities, continue to develop confidence through age appropriate skills. Here is a general list of what children are commonly able to do after receiving nurturing instruction:
What Chores Three-year-olds Can Do
- Straighten bedroom
- Vacuum bedroom
- Wash mirrors and easily reached windows
- Use washer and dryer for simple loads of laundry
- Easy sewing like replacing buttons
- Basic repairs using a hammer and nail
- Clean inside and outside of car
Chores for Children Ages 10 to 12
- Care for own clothes
- Organize bedroom and study area to personal preference
- Change bedding
- Mow the yard
- Earn money by completing extra chores
- Learn to budget and manage own money
- Make baked goods
- Plan, purchase, prepare, and clean up a meal
- Learn to define, write out, and arrange the steps to accomplish a goal
- Plan and organize a special event like a birthday party
Chores for Teens
- Care for room and personal belongings
- Participate in personal Bible study
- Take responsibility to complete or get help with homework
- Earn money with a part-time job
- Learn to do savings and banking
- Purchase clothes that fit family standards of modesty
- Handle own calendar and make calls to schedule appointments
- Research colleges to consider with parent
- Select parent-approved mentor
When your child asks to learn a skill, whenever possible, accommodate the request. Parents are the natural teachers in a child’s life, nurturing a child’s naturally developing independence. As their abilities increase, so does their confidence.
For parents, there is a continual balance of protection without overprotection; of helping and teaching without rescuing by doing much that your child can do himself. As often as possible, celebrate these natural progressions to independence. The goal of parenting is to work ourselves out of a job as our child transitions into adulthood and becomes a contributing member of society with their own personal relationship with God.
©2023 PeggySue Wells. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.