Bringing up Helpful Children

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One of the jobs of being a parent is to train and prepare your children for their future. There are hundreds of books out there on bring up children and each has a little different take on what is best. The truth is ever y kid is different, even siblings. You must do what works best for each child. 

I personally want my children to grow up to be willingly helpful. To see a need and meet it. One of the ways I encourage them to help is by letting them. Yes the job will take at least 2x as long, but in the end they will be able to do it themselves someday, without prompting. 

Please hear me here. I am not perfect and have my fair share of just let me do it, and we don’t have time. But when I stop my hustle I remember they are wanting to help, and deep down I want them to help now and in the future.  When I slow down and enjoy their help, they want to help more. I want my kids to see our life on the farm as one they were included in, one they dream of coming back to. Besides, as I grow older, I’m going to want someone else to care for my critters when it’s cold (hehe). 

In all honesty though I had a very good reminder of this a few weeks back. We had been on the go most of the day and were finally home and both kids wanted to help with supper. All I wanted was peace and the kitchen to myself. The oldest was determined she was going to help (God bless her determination). She went to the dining room and a brought a chair back, since I was not getting the step stool out for her. She and her brother proceeded to stand at the kitchen sink. It took me a while to figure out what was going on. I thought they were just playing in the sink with the water. I finally realized what was going on when I saw the dish soap moving. They were washing the dishes. Over and over. There wasn’t much in the sink to wash, but she was so proud. She even soaked the coffee cups to get the stains out! You should have seen her beam when I thanked her with a hug and praised her.  

This particular event reminded me of three things. Number one, they are always watching. I had never actually taught her to wash dishes. She had stood next to me and rinsed before, but I had always washed. 

The second, was how happy kids are to help and serve. It had been a busy few weeeks and I honestly had just been dragging the kids along most of the time, just trying to get through the day. My kids needed me to slow down and engage them. 

Third, my kids are capable of way more than I often think they are. My oldest does this to me a lot. She decides she’s going to help and she exceeds my expectations. Occasionally I’ll give her a task that I know will be difficult for her, not to be mean, but to help her grow. She has learned to ask for help when she needs it, and we work together to finish the task. It’s moments like this that I remember how much she rises to my expectations. If I set the bar low she doesn’t stretch or grow. 

The youngest is quickly following his sister, determined to keep up and do whatever she is doing. He insists he can help dip up feed, nd hold the bottles. He tries to catch chickens lik his sister and leads the horses (with mom or sis holding the other end). 

Kids rise to the standard you, as the adult, set. Set the bar reasonable and teach them the thrill of reaching the bar and exceeding it. The joy of accomplishing something they thought they couldn’t. And when they come short, help them get up and go again. That it is ok to find ways that a task didn’t work well. This helps them build resilience and grit. Both of these will help them immensely in the future. 

Go raise up strong resilient adults. After all the kids of today are tomorrow’s adults. 

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