What is the deal with involving babies with house chores? Why should we do it?

What is the deal with involving babies with house chores? Why should we do it?

What is the deal with involving babies with house chores? Why should we do it?

“Never do for a child what he can do for himself. A “dependent” child is a demanding child…Children become irresponsible only when we fail to give them opportunities to take responsibility.”
—Rudolf Dreikurs and Margaret Goldman

We often see social media posts of babies trying to imitate household chores and start questioning the parents as to why they are making them do household chores at such young age. Let’s try to understand from where this is all coming.

Renowned psychiatrist and educator Rudolf Dreikurs, suggested that human misbehavior is the result of not having one's basic need of belonging to, and contributing to, a social group. The child then resorts to one of four mistaken goals: Attention, power, revenge, and avoidance of failure. He suggested that a sense of belonging is one of the key component for a healthy social-emotional development of the child. Montessori too found out that children are naturally drawn towards activities which they see around in their environment. So providing age appropriate task under supervision can help the child feel a sense of belonging and provides them a sense of accomplishment.

Modern research done by Marty Rossman, emeritus associate professor of family education, shows that involving children in household tasks at an early age can have a positive impact later in life. By involving children in tasks, parents teach their children a sense of responsibility, competence, self- reliance, and self-worth that stays with them throughout their lives. Rossman used measures of individual's success such as completion of education, getting started on a career path, IQ, relationships with family and friends, not using drugs, and examining a child's involvement in household tasks at various ages in life. He determined that the best predictor of young adults' success in their mid-20s was that they participated in household tasks when they were three or four.  However, if they did not begin participating until they were 15 or 16, the participation backfired and those subjects were less "successful." The assumption is that responsibility learned via household tasks is best when learned young. 

At toddler stage we want to make sure that they are exposed and given opportunities to such tasks, the goal here is not to expect them to accomplish the same level of expertise as an adult would have. Just a simple bedtime routine involving them to pick up their toys and put it back to its place is one such opportunity. Tasks like these also give ample amount of time for both parents and child to bond with each other, to understand each other on emotional aspect. 

Coming back to Montessori methodology, the Sensitive period of Order begins at birth, peaks in the second year of development, and continues through to around age five. This period of development teaches how to develop their reasoning skills, organise information, and understand their environment. Sensitivity to order can be characterised by a desire for consistency and repetition, where children crave routine and structure. During this period of sensitivity, children may be more interested in putting things in order and packing things away, than they are in playing with their toys. To support the sensitive period for order, it is important to establish ground rules, a solid routine, and create an organised environment where everything has a place. 

It may be awhile before your child is able to consistently contribute to the housework, but teaching them now can help set the expectation that everyone in the family does their part ❤️