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The Extension Corner: Tiny tasks yield outstanding outcomes

When one hears the question, “How may I help you?”, they might be reminded of a customer service or retail employee.

For me, I am reminded of my childhood self, offering assistance to my dad. I adored being “daddy’s helper” and having a hand in all of his projects.

As an adult I can now distinctly see how being a helper in my household helped me learn valuable skills and prepared me for adulthood.

Kacie Hatley

When children are given important and interesting roles within the household, the positive outcomes are abounding.

These “roles” are more than routine chores such as a child cleaning their room, doing the dishes or sweeping.

Rather, it is finding ways to include your child on tasks you would traditionally do alone. This may include kitchen skills, financial management, phone skills or grocery shopping.

By doing this, children will gain autonomy, life skills and resilience which will help them later on in life.

The process of finding ways to incorporate your kids into everyday activities can be time-consuming and frustrating.

Here are a few steps to help you get started:

1. Plan ahead. What is on your to do list for today?

Begin by establishing the habit of creating a daily to-do list. Start with five things you need to do throughout the day. Remember that enlisting the help of your child will probably draw out the length each task will take.

Budget your time accordingly and practice patience.

2. Give them an appropriate role.

Go through each item in your to-do list and find a way to give your child a task. Ask yourself the following questions: Am I teaching a certain skill?

Will my child feel important holding this role? Is this task age appropriate? Will my workload be eased by my child learning this skill?

3. “Learn by doing.”

The 4-H slogan is “learn by doing.” We believe in the power of youth being fully engaged with hands-on activities when learning a new skill.

Therefore, model a skill and then use phrases such as “try this” to engage and teach kids within the home.

4. Make sure they see the fruits of their labor.

Did your child help you bake a cake?

Post it on social media giving them credit. Remember to use positive reinforcement to reward kids when they learn and utilize these skills.

Show your child that you are proud of them so that they can also take pride in their abilities.

5. Turn them loose.

After learning their newly developed skill, have the youth independently practice the skill again in the near future.

Before you know it, your child will be able to complete a variety of tasks that will give them empowerment and lighten your load.

By doing learning a variety of skills that can be applied within the home, children begin to see themselves as not merely a member, but an active contributor towards the family.

Kacie Hatley is the extension agent for 4-H for N.C. Cooperative Extension of Stanly County. Contact her at 704-983-3987 or email kacie_hatley@ncsu.edu.