Shatin Playgroup: 7 Tips for Raising Helpful Children

Shatin Playgroup Tips

Shatin Playgroup Tips: Raising a Helpful Child is not Impossible

Perhaps you have seen this and been very impressed: A parent is working on a task, like cleaning up a room, and their young child begins helping them without being asked.

The fact that you are surprised by what you are seeing is not unusual. Unfortunately, not all children are helpful. For parents whose children seem to be somewhat more focused on their own needs than the needs of others, getting a child to help without complaining can be challenging.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take—and that we take at Sunnyside Montessori, Shatin Playgroup—to teach your child that there is much good that comes from assisting others.

Shatin Playgroup Pointers on How to Make a Collaborative Attitude Second Nature in Your Child

Being willing to help others is, like every behavior, something that children learn from the adults around them. Sunnyside Montessori, Shatin Playgroup recommends these seven actions that you can take at home to instill a collaborative attitude in your child:

  1. Offer help and respond happily to requests.If you want your children to offer to help you, you must offer to help them. It is also important that you respond to their reasonable requests for assistance with a happy demeanor, as this is what you want to get from them when the roles are reversed. If you express irritation or frustration that what you are currently doing has been interrupted, you will, not surprisingly, probably see that behavior reflected when you ask your child for help at a later time.
  2. Model helping both inside and outside the home.It is important for children to be helpful to their parents, siblings and other family members. But it is also important to be helpful to people outside of the immediate family, like teachers and classmates. If your child sees you doing things that will benefit your community, they are more likely to do the same.
  3. Make helping part of your normal routine.It is fine to reward your children now and then for being helpful, but ideally, they should come to see assisting others simply as what good people like you and your family members do. Having them complete certain tasks regularly—setting the table for meals, caring for the family pet, etc.—helps them understand this. A genuine “Thank you” is all you should feel compelled to provide when a task is completed. Then, if they go “above and beyond,” and you decide to reward them, it feels even better.
  4. Take time to include them in tasks.It is not uncommon for busy parents to hurry through their “To Do” list as quickly as possible, as that list is often a long one! But if you slow down, invite your child to join you and then patiently work with them to get the desired results, you have demonstrated multiple characteristics you hope to see in your child.
  5. Talk about the importance of helping.Demonstrating helpfulness is very important, but so is reinforcing it verbally. When your child hears you say, “I like helping you,” or “It’s fun to work together,” or “Look how helpful that person is,” those words emphasize the positive nature of helping and being helped.
  6. Don’t critique their work.Especially when a child is first learning to be a helper, try to avoid providing too many “pointers” as they work or a negative review of the finished product. Provide enough guidance that they get off to a good start and then just let them work. If the dishes are not as clean as you would like them to be, you can give them a touch-up after your child is in bed.
  7. Look for gradual improvement.Some days, your child may seem like the world’s best helper. Other times, they may have no interest in helping whatsoever. That is simply the nature of children. But with patience and persistence, the helpful days will increase and the not-so-helpful days will become few and far between.

The Lifelong Benefits of Helpfulness

Raising helpful children does more than just make life easier for parents and teachers. Adults tend to gravitate to and form good relationships with helpful people. That includes employers, who are always looking for “team players.”

But that is a long way off, of course. For now, it is just nice to get some assistance with tidying up around the house!