by Alix Tonsgard
Even though I am practically always home these days, the days still seem to fly by and the pace of life within the house feels fast and, at times, chaotic. I am sure this is something many of you can relate to. We are still figuring out how to juggle my work projects with my partner’s and keeping the others in the household busy and fed. In our efforts to get from one meeting to the next while preparing meals and setting up activities, we were living in the world of ‘no’ and this world was making everyone stressed.
In an effort to create more of a ‘yes’ environment, we have slowed down our pace and built in more opportunities for our little guy to help do big jobs. Big jobs are not the same as chores. Big jobs are things that children are intrinsically motivated to do because they want to help, and that is an important distinction.
Young children love to help. Letting them help supports their social emotional as well as physical development. In addition, these jobs often involve math and science even if that is not their intention! By giving them jobs to do in these instances, you are communicating a deep level of respect for them and what they are capable of. You are supporting the development of a positive self-concept by showing them that you trust them to do important things. Big jobs also build a child’s sense of community when you give them tasks that contribute to caring for the family such as chopping vegetables for dinner.
Big jobs haven’t solved all of our daily struggles (he’s two and a half years old; we expect life to be a rollercoaster), but our consistency in letting him help, gives him a sense of being in control. He takes pride in his ability to help but also is excited about the opportunity to work on mastering a new skill.
So try this: find one part of your day where you can slow down and be in the moment with your child. For me, these are the moments I cherish.
Alix Tonsgard is an early learning specialist at the DuPage Children’s Museum.