Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Luke is really into doing the dishes, moping the floor, vacuuming, and basically all the regular 'chores' we do every week. I read in The Continuum Concept (a book about the way a tribe in South America raises their young) that children are always around watching their parents do different tasks and as they get older they just join in.The kids would try what ever their parents were doing, then go on to play with out any encouragement from the parents either way. Each time they would join in a little lomger Even if it's just a couple minutes here and there until they finally are old enough and skilled enough to do the task. I've always been intrigued by this and wanted to try this a little myself.
This is what I do. I let Luke sit in the other side of the sink with his own brush. He scrubs away at the pan just like us. Or we have the dishwasher open to load it after dinner and we let him take plates out even if he just puts them on the floor. He is still exploring what to do. It is pretty amazing that he knows exactly what to do just from watching me the last 10 months. While he isn't really helping, he's learning and able to participate in something that we do. So maybe when he is older, he'll actually know to wash the plate that he uses, at least hopefully. This is why I put 'chores' in quotes, he loves them. What makes something a chore? When in my life did I consider doing dishes a chore? If I liked washing dishes when I was small because I thought it was cool to do what my parents were doing, when did it become something that I didn't want to do? Where is that transition? My initial thought is that when he understands what he's doing he's not going to like it. But thinking more about it, how will he ever know that doing dishes is a negative thing? He would learn that from us. So, I'm thinking if might work, as long as I can just act like 'chores' are something that we just do and not something negative that maybe I can delay the idea that 'chores' exist. I think our attitude will really affect the way he views doing chores.
This is why I don't try and 'get something done' (a common quote used by mothers, usually means they can actually do something productive when their baby is sleeping) while Luke is napping. I want to do everything while he's awake so he can see what to do. If he never watches me do dishes, laundry, vacuum, etc, how will he ever learn? It should be interesting to see what happens... maybe he'll always like doing the dishes!

1 comment:

Lisa C said...

I always do housework when Michael is awake, too. I want him to see it happening, and he likes to copy.

I think chores become undesirable when they are forced on us, especially without any appreciation. Not that we need praise for doing it, but a simple please or thank you would do. As a child I remember wishing that my mom would ask me to do something instead of ordering me around (children are cooperative naturally, but you have to be nice about it!). I also remember wishing we could do the dishes together. Work is much more enjoyable when you do it socially.

Also in the continuum concept it mentions that if a child ignored a parent's request to do something, the parent just took care of it themselves without saying anything about it. I think is important to remember not force our kids to do things even if we think they should be doing their share.