You know when you do that thing where you lie on the settee all day pretending to be ill? No? Only me then? I keep asking parents this question, and I have never met one who has tried this, or if they have they are unwilling to admit it. Well, let me tell you, as a technique to get kids to help out more, it works a treat.
I only did it once for the whole day to be fair, and although I wasn’t strictly-speaking actually ill, I was exhausted with three little children, my husband was away and I yearned for one of those Sundays where you lie around all day having nothing to do except move as little as possible. It had been so many years since I’d had one of those Sundays. I did need it, so really it was just a means of illness-prevention, it wasn’t a lie as such, it was just a prediction of the future. It would have been true if I hadn’t had that break.
Enough of the justifications, here’s what happened. My three little boys took huge pride and pleasure in looking after me all day. I learned that they could do things like make me cups of tea and a sandwich all by themselves, and that they cared about me and were not only willing, but really happy to help me. They were proud of themselves all day.
It was one of the easiest days I had ever had with them, they kept the noise down, they didn’t fight, they worked things out for themselves and they were all happy. All day.
It made me realise that previously I hadn’t been giving them enough chances to help me, I’d thought it was my job to always look after them, not the other way round. I thought I always had to be the big strong one, but if you don’t give them any opportunity you never know how much children want to help you.
Instead of telling them about the importance of being helpful and thinking about other people, we could give them the chance sometimes to experience it, by not always being superwoman and holding it all together ourselves. If we want to get kids to help more, maybe we sometimes need to be helpless. And as a parenting technique, lying on the settee all day is by far the easiest method I’ve ever tried.