One of the hard things for a mum to do is to give responsibility to a younger child when the older has it well accomplished. Having our children help us with chores etc is a very helpful thing, and when the older children master these skills it is very easy to rely on them and in so doing, miss training the younger ones to gain the very same skills.
We must move them all up the ladder, so to speak, from one responsibility to another.
Here are a few ways which I’ve found helpful (though it is always a challenge I have before me)
- Rotate Chores – I have divided my house into 5 main areas. I take one and the children rotate the other four. This means when one child – a younger child – has a week doing a chore that they are not very competent in, I need to work along side of them. This is how and when training happens. A rotation means that eventually everyone will be well trained, and well practiced in all four areas.
- Having my children designated to a specific area of the house for a whole week means that when I set out to do something beyond their regular chores within that sphere I call on them for help (or training) regardless of their competency. E.g. If the older is in the kitchen for example I may ask them to bake an extra dessert, but if the younger is in the kitchen that week I would ask them to work along side of me as I bake the extra dessert.
- Increase their areas of Responsibility – When I feel it is time for a younger to take on a responsibility that the older is already doing, I find another responsibility for the older to be trained in. There is always something more to learn. For example, as Nomi needed extra training in housecleaning, I moved Jessica into the office. By the time Daniel came old enough to take on the lawn, Joshua was working outside of the home (so that worked well!)
- Give the older one a break. There is no rule that says everyone must be doing the same amount of work at the same time. There can be seasons where one child has a responsibility that isn’t matched by anything another child has.
Bottom line is – we simply need to set aside time for specific training. This is where the rubber meets the road – its gotta be done! We cannot expect our younger children to do tasks without training – I am sure we spent time training the older ones!
One other thought to consider – As I make the time to train the younger ones in responsibility I see in them a ‘growing up’; something inside of them grows to the level of responsibility we give them. I think this is one of the issues that we often see between the oldest and the youngest siblings – one seems always to be more mature. I wonder how much of this is because we give so much responsibility to the oldest and we don’t give that responsibility to the youngest. I believe this needn’t be the case – but we have to work on it!