Conscious parenting means a parent will think about what is in their child’s best long-term interest. In Maslow’s terms if you parent your child for survival you are a decent parent, however the goal of parenting should be to parent your child for self-actualisation. This is where bliss and happiness reside. In this scenario you are shifting your parenting from ‘protective upbringing’ to ‘purposeful upbringing’.
Children must be taught to meet their lower level needs and learn survival and independence while they are young so that the journey to self-actualise can actually happen.
How household chores can help kids become independent
To help our children become independent and feel that they can contribute, we must provide an environment that allows them to develop the values of responsibility and accountability. The more we do, provide, shelter and act for them, the less we give them the opportunity to grow as individuals. Many parents carrying a guilty parent syndrome owing to hectic work schedules are over-lenient with their children and provide for all their needs and wants even before they ask for anything. This enables our children to think that they are entitled to everything without having to work for it. This is where household chores come in; it becomes a constructive means to help children learn responsibility and management skills, and to work for what they want.
Various studies have found that doing chores aids the comprehension of personal responsibility and accountability, which plays an integral part in living a successful life as a mature and competent member of society. If we, as parents, do not give our children any responsibility and do all the chores for them, then we deny them the opportunity of a fundamental lesson in their life journey. Left with no responsibility, they will not grasp concepts like reciprocal obligation at a young age and find it hard to understand the ‘give and take’ required for collaboration and ensuring success. Not only will they be denied an opportunity to learn the benefit of working for their own objectives, but they will also be denied the learning that accompanies the work and the understanding of how each contribution can eventually lead to a greater outcome.
If we teach children to work for what they want, we can help them in the long run. Chores help children learn everyday survival life-skills. They learn how to manage tasks and later, learn to apply this knowledge to take on other managerial roles. By reinforcing the idea that chores are for every member of the household to contribute towards we can help break the stereotype that these responsibilities are only meant for women. Chores can also help children feel a sense of accomplishment and belonging as a part of a household.
We can even allocate chores as a means for children to earn their allowance. Julie Lythcott-Haims, an author and former dean of Stanford’s University, suggests that kids will develop empathy through learning responsibility. In an interview for Tech Insider, she said, “By making them [children] do chores-taking out the garbage, doing their own laundry-they realize I have to do the work of life in order to be a part of life.” We must help children understand that they are also a part of life and that their contributions are required.
Chores not only teach life-skills, responsibility and self-reliance but also teamwork and reinforces respect for each member of the household, helps in building a strong work ethic, helps with learning to plan and manage time and develops a feeling of competence and enhances self-esteem.
Doing chores will help children learn to be responsible, feel competent and boost self-esteem and this will reflect in other areas of their lives. It will help them become accountable for their outcomes and achievements, whether in earning money, securing grades or fulfilling objectives. As parents, we must ensure that our children learn the responsibility and accountability that is required for future success and thus we parent them not only to survive but to go out into the world and thrive.
(The author is founder, Kangaroo kids and Billabong High.)
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