Be selfish to grow helpful kids


You’re living with a number of other people, maybe 3 or 4 or more. But there seems to be only one person tidying, sweeping, cooking, laundering, worrying and that one person seems to be you.

Do you know why? It’s because you’re not selfish enough!

You’re a caring person and a loving parent. You and your other half work hard at providing a home for your children where they have enough to eat, feel safe and warm and are free to be themselves. Job done, right?

Nope! Have you forgotten about caring for yourself, I mean really being kind and spoiling yourself with your own time to enjoy your own interests? As lovely as your children are, are they beginning to take you a little bit for granted and letting that dreaded sense of entitlement sneak in?

So how do we help our children grow into decent beings by becoming selfish beings ourselves?

Treat them as equals:

Seeing your children as having equal status in the home (ok, not equal status in EVERYTHING but certainly in maintaining the house 😉) will help you to get your head around doling out jobs and various responsibilities without feeling you should be the one doing everything. Chipping in regularly with an appropriate amount of chores will help open your children’s eyes to what is involved in everyday practical life and prevents them feeling they need to be minded for the rest of their lives! It also helps them to refine skills such as hoovering, dish washing, laundry etc so that moving out of the family home later in life is less daunting.

Don’t overdo it though. Remember, when ensuring that everyone pulls their own weight, that everyone weighs differently! The bigger the age, the bigger the job. We don’t want to turn off a little guy from doing chores around the house by giving him ones that are just too difficult. But do remember that anything you can do, an older teenager can do.. no exceptions!

If you’ve made the family meal, after dinner is a great time to hone your art of selfishness. Let your kids know what you expect from them as regards various clean up jobs, remind them that you have made the meal so you will be sitting back and not lending a hand. Then go and find a nice comfy seat and a book or the tv and enjoy!

Don’t be fussy:

Being fussy about the outcome of certain chores may be the reason that your house is as clean as it is but if you don’t accept that your child may not be up to your standard, you and your kids will feel discouraged . When you see that clumsy mess by the sink, take a deep breath and remember why you’re doing this (to be nicer to yourself and to help the kids fend for themselves one day). Collateral damage such as knocking over the dog’s dish of water while your child gets the hang of the sweeping brush is best ignored if possible. If it’s a young child that is concentrating on handling the brush, it’s likely that they haven’t noticed the spillage. If it would be awkward for the your little one to clean up the spillage, say nothing, do a quick clean up when they’ve left the room. They have done their job while they’ve seen you take your time off and they’ll master their dexterity over time.

In our house, my brief to the kids while they clean without me, is ‘make it look like we were never here’. A big ask, but something to aim for.

Stay in that seat! :

You’re sitting down with a cuppa after a long and busy day and your little guy approaches you to ask for help finding an important piece of lego. Normally you would hop up and search for it straight away, you don’t want your little angel feeling bored or frustrated. Stay put!! Let your child know that you are feeling tired (because you are feeling tired!) and you will help after you’ve finished your cuppa. Maybe he will go and search himself. There is nothing wrong with putting yourself first. Seeing their mom/dad looking after themselves will help your children keep check on their own life balancing in later years.

It’s their event, not yours:

Whether it’s a sporting training session, a music lesson or a visit to their friend’s house, don’t forget that it’s your child who wants to go. You won’t benefit from their activities outside of the home (maybe you’ll get a much needed hour’s peace, but you need not mention that). Remind your child that it is nearly time to go. Then relax, continue with whatever nice thing you’re enjoying at that moment, and let your child get their own gear ready. You can remind them where their various stuff is but don’t move a muscle! Where there’s a will there’s a way and they should find a way to get themselves organised for this fun event that they’ve been looking forward to.

Don’t be an ass:

Of course the title to this piece is tongue in cheek and being a selfish parent won’t necessarily help with your successful child rearing. Of course you will often feel like you have no energy reserves left in your body but you will still help your child in any way you can. Of course you will want their sports gear to be ready to use and accessible. Of course you are not going to always sit on your rear end while the kids do all the work, unchecked by you.

Being a good role model while doing chores alongside your children every so often will encourage everyone to appreciate that we are all in this together.

Be kind and show your appreciation for what they do. When there is a good routine established and everyone is on board, offer to do the odd job for them as a treat, occasionally. The gratitude you receive will be encouraging and reassure you that you’ve done something right in this parenting journey!

As you continue to be a loving and caring parent who puts their children first, your children will learn from your example and pass this onto the next generation in time. But taking the time to love and respect yourself will teach them something valuable too.

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