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I cooked my first dish when I was in the 8th standard and the memory of that day is still fresh. I particularly, remember my father praising me and mother encouraging and it gave me the sense of an achievement. Mom had always taught us (my brother and me) to be independent and had always given us small tasks to do when we were as little as 5-6 years. In my case it became a silent boon when I moved to a hostel for my engineering. Thank you mama!
As our kids grow into adults it is important that we make them independent. By that I mean, make them self reliant. Let them not grow into an adult and not know how to handle simple tasks and/or situations. As parents we think that our kids are too young to do any work but, giving them age appropriate tasks helps them in their growing years. There are many benefits in giving children little tasks, as it gets them involved in household activities, gives them a sense of responsibility, helps connect and understand parents and they also learn to respect time and people.
What tasks would be appropriate? Here are a few suggestions:
· Age 4-6: This group is very active and has a very short attention spans. So, tasks should also be short and interesting. Some tasks that can be assigned to them are sorting vegetables and fruits after grocery shopping, cleaning their play area after every play session, watering plants, picking their plates, cups and mugs and leaving them at the kitchen sink (one habit which will be appreciated by others in the future) etc.
· Age 6-9: This group has mellowed down a little and can be assigned more complex tasks. This group can take care of younger siblings while you take a ten minute shower instead of two, they can help in dusting and cleaning (trust me they have a lot of fun doing that), they can help lay plates on the dinner table, a lot of kids in this age group enjoy helping in the kitchen so give them tasks which are not dangerous but fun like making the batter for cake etc.
· Age 9 and above: As adolescence descends making this group work can be tricky. They do not like to be ordered nor are they completely independent. Tasks like getting a couple of urgent household items from a nearby shop, emptying the washing machine, picking clothes after they are dry, taking care of pets can be given to them.
All these tasks have to be performed under parental guidance to ensure safety. Appreciating children’s efforts at doing a task will keep them motivated and enthusiastic. It is also important to listen to their opinions and suggestions when they do a task, after all they might come up with a better way/solution for a task.