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Laura Usky  Headshot

What Little Helpers Turn Into: Why It's Good For Kids to Lend a Hand at Any Age

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CHILD BAKING WITH MOM
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Co-pilot, sous chef, mini-stylist -- whatever it may be, have your kids help with everything as much as possible. No matter how little the task, they love to be a part. Let them! I know it can take longer and sometimes, you can't bear to hear their sweet, little voices another second of the day. But rather than shooing them out to the backyard or telling them to go play in another room, involving them in getting things done can be good for them and good for you -- not just today, but in the long-term. It might even benefit your relationship with them throughout the course of their lives. Like I say over and over, you have a very small time frame when they actually want to hang with their parents, then they become teens who know way more than we do. You'll be begging for the moments where they sat in the backseat or on the kitchen counter yapping your ear off. But getting your kids involved in the day-to-day tasks doesn't just create precious moments you'll miss later on. It can actually have great benefit to them as well. Those little things you put them to work on can help them develop project management understanding, teach them how to understand and create the step-by-step efforts that can help them later including when they're entering the workforce for the first time. It can also teach work ethic, dedication and commitment to completing things that they need to get done. Given that you do want them to grow up and do well for themselves as adults, taking the time to have them lend a hand at any age can be well worth it. It can also help them learn how to use everything from technology to appliances and give them life skills that will help them later on in life.

When we drive places, my daughter sits in back and controls our music choices by BlueTooth. She's learned to share a selection time and how to be considerate of putting songs into rotation that she may not like, but knows I or others enjoy. Teaching her to use and understand technology is great for her and while she's at it she's learning how to accommodate and work with others who may have different tastes or likes than her. She also has a bit of a backseat driver in her and will remind me of construction spots and keeps her eye on traffic. It's good training for when she hits the big 16 and wants to cruise! Not to mention she's learning direction and communication skills in the process. When I'm in the kitchen, she is a constant at the counter. She loves to help prepare meals and create recipes. She is not afraid to experiment and comes up with some good flavor combos. This is how children learn to cook, as little ones in mom's kitchen. It's a learned skill and the traditions you create in the kitchen with your kids will last a lifetime. But it also helps them develop planning skills, puts their motor skills and minds to work, not to mention they understand how different items put together can create a result. It can also help them with understanding how to manage and accommodate groups of people. Yes, it is through meals and entertaining but you can be sure that these skills can transfer to all kinds of other areas of life.

Next time you have a event or party, let your kids help pick the theme and participate in the planning. Gigi loves to go to the party store and help pick decorations, etc. Kids can help prepare appetizers and greet or assist guests. All these things can absolutely prepare them for all kinds of situations they'll be in later in life. This includes being able to prepare their own meals, cook for their own family someday, not to mention being a great host. Trips to the grocery store and selecting menu or meal items show them how to do it for themselves, plus teaches them how to understand price and food or ingredient comparison, where and how to find things that they need, and many other great skills. When I am going out, Gigi loves to sit and watch me put on makeup, jewelry, etc. I always ask her opinion on outfits and accessories, and she's become really good at styling through a lot of trial. Knowing that we need to dress certain ways for certain things in life helps kids recognize the different social or society cues needed for everything from events to being on the job. The more your kids know about experimenting and selecting things from food to fashion helps them learn and develop their own tastes and likes, which can help their self-esteem and confidence. Not only does my daughter assist me in cooking, fashion choices and navigation, but she is equally as interested in helping her father assemble things, change light bulbs, trim branches and use his tools. It empowers her with know-how that can only be a good thing when she's on the job or at home when she grows up. Not only that it's given her a confidence in the way she carries herself that is hard to miss. And it creates a well rounded kid who tends to have the confidence and skills to lead, as well as the ability to recognize how to be a team player, follow directions, and more. It's in the everyday habits and chores that our children develop their own talents and abilities. The things you do everyday as part of your daily grind are the living skills they will need to be successful as adults.

It's as easy as it sounds! Let them help you. If they're toddlers, simple tasks like helping to load the dishwasher with plastic plates and cups or sorting laundry are great. As they grow, they can take on and help with more. Sure it might take a little longer and require a little patience from mom or dad, but you'll be glad you did when they're functional, responsible, strong, skilled later on in life.