Life Skills: Developing Respect and Responsibility

Up until recently, we have been spoilt rotten with two live-in domestic helpers. Now, one has gone home for good and the other is on holiday. Everyone has had to pull their weight at home with the cleaning up. The first week was rough. I woke up every morning feeling like I’d just completed an intensive workout the day before and I was counting the days until our help was back. Now, two weeks into it, I’m contemplating the idea of going domestic-help-free.

Having a domestic helper is great because you can always leave them the jobs you hate to do. That said, there are lots of additional benefits of not having help:

  • who needs to work out at the gym when you can feel the burn scrubbing the bathroom?
  • it reinforces the habit of picking up after ourselves which is great modelling for the boys. We have to question what are we teaching our children when there is always someone to pick up after us and then get cross with our children when they leave their mess for us to clean up. When you’re always being waited on, it creates a false sense of entitlement that you never have to lift a finger.
  • when everyone has to get their hands dirty, the children develop the responsibility of helping out, too. I was thrilled to see that Aristotle was so willing to pitch in. When I was toying with the idea of going solo, I told him that he would have to help me out when we move because I would be a lot more busy cleaning the house. He responded with an eagerness to be assigned chores.
  • it also teaches the children to respect the people who serve us after they personally experience the work involved. I think this is probably one of the most important messages a child can learn because it is easy to take for granted the people who work for us. When you never have to clean anything, you don’t appreciate the cleaner who cleans up after you.

So even though it is convenient to have someone handle the cleaning up, I think the benefits of having to clean up after yourself more than make up for the inconvenience of it. It’s another way to teach children about having respect for others and being responsible.

About the author

Shen-Li Shen-Li is a stay-home mum to two boys who have been the inspiration for her interest in early childhood development and early child education. She searches for the balance in child development methods and the educational philosophies that will enable the nurture of happy, confident and successful children. She shares her views and findings at Figur8.


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