Kids Motherhood

This Simple Parenting Tip Actually Gets Kids To Help Around The Home – With A Smile!

This Simple Parenting Tip Actually Makes Kids Help Around The Home - With A Smile!
Written by Christine Leeb

“I don’t want to put my shoes in the cubby!” my three-year-old shouted.  “I don’t want to be helpful!”  At first, I doubted if The Helpful Experiment was actually going to work.

It all started six months ago when I was gritting my teeth and clenching my fists about putting little shoes in the cubby for the one hundredth time, picking dirty clothes up off the floor for the one thousandth time, and putting books in the toy bin for the one millionth time. 

Something needed to change.  There had to be a better way of getting my kids to do what I asked them to do without getting angry, yelling, or punishing – without time-outs, chore charts, rewards, or even bribery.    

Was it possible to teach my kids to be helpful – just to be helpful?

The science teacher in me and the mom who wants to raise helpful kids in me was on a mission to train my kids to choose to be helpful around the house not because they got something in return, but because it was the right thing to do – the kind and loving thing to do. But how the heck was I going to do that?  Ah ha!  I got it!  The Golden Rule.“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” If I wanted my kids to be more helpful, I had to be more helpful.

But would it work?  If I started being more helpful towards my kids, would they follow my lead and finally put their shoes in their cubby once and for all for cryin’ out loud?  Seriously though, it wasn’t all about getting them to put their shoes in their cubby.  It was about a change in their attitude – a long-term vision of teaching them to see the value of helping others – just to be helpful!

And The Helpful Experiment began.  

Every day, I used the word “helpful” over and over.  I let them know when I was being helpful and I would applaud them anytime they chose to be helpful.  Instead of getting angry at how slowly my oldest was getting ready for school, I would ask him, “How can I be helpful so we can be on time?”

All throughout the day, I would say:

  • “Mommy put your shoes in your cubby…just to be helpful.”
  • “Mommy put your dirty clothes in your laundry basket…just to be helpful.”
  • “Mommy decided to be helpful and pick up your books for you.”
  • “Mommy chose to be helpful and clean up your room for you.”

At first, I’m sure they were thinking: “Alright, who kidnapped mommy?” But soon, I noticed a change, a shift in attitude and a new sense of teamwork and helpfulness.  Plates were being taken to the sink – just to be helpful.  Tables were getting set – just to be helpful.  Family rooms were being cleaned up – just to be helpful.   

My two older kids were really stepping up their helpfulness game.  My three-year-old, however, was still not fully on board, but he was noticing.  Just yesterday, he left his shoes on the floor and said “Mommy, will you put my shoes in the cubby for me just to be helpful?”  And I did. 

Just as I predicted, a spirit of helpfulness started to fill my home.  But what surprised me the most was how much a spirit of helpfulness started to fill my heart!  I discovered a new joy and purpose in serving my family.  I was going out of my way to be helpful – no gritted teeth – no clenched fists. 

Now, I put shoes in the cubby for the one hundredth time with a smile.  I pick dirty clothes up off the floor for the one thousandth time with pleasure.  And I put books in the toy bin for the one millionth time with glee.  Well, maybe not all the time, but I am certainly having more fun finding ways to bless my kids – just to be helpful. 

Don’t worry.  I still expect them to be responsible and learn to do things for themselves, but it’s different now.  My kids feel more empowered when I give them the chance to be helpful, and they are more encouraged when they see me being helpful too!

Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  You got it, Gandhi.

If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.”  Right on, Michael. 

The Helpful Experiment worked.  If I wanted to make a change in my home, I had to be the first to change.  The Helpful Experiment isn’t just an experiment anymore – it’s our new way of life.

Can you imagine a world where The Helpful Experiment was everyone’s way of life?

Because, by the way, guess what three-year-old just put his shoes in the cubby for the very first time… “just to be helpful.”

About the author

Christine Leeb

CHRISTINE LEEB is Christian Life Coach for Women and is also getting certified as a Parenting and Marriage Coach. As a former educator and now work-at-home mom, she discovered that her most important teaching role was with her own kids. She uses her life as a lesson plan to empower parents to be their child’s first and best teacher in the most important “classroom” in life…their own homes. She is passionate about family and develops and teaches classes for moms and families through a charitable organization she founded called Real Life Families. She has 3 beautiful (and exhausting) children and has been married to her husband, Brad, for almost 17 wonderful (and challenging) years. She enjoys garage sale-ing, brownie eating, friendship keeping, book reading, family tickling, and husband dating.

  • ” If I wanted to make a change in my home, I had to be the first to change.” I love this and so agree. It starts with us moms! Great post!

    • Thank you Harmony! It’s so easy to cast our desires for change onto others, but it has to start with us first! It has sure changed my heart! 🙂

  • YES!!!! Great training. It’s a process. You trained the heart –not just correcting the behavior. Talking nd modelling. You are one smart mama! WAY TO GO!

    • Kids will rise to our expectations and will follow our lead-especially when we are leading with love! Thank you so much for your encouragement!!

  • sosomom

    I would struggle to maintain an appropriate tone if voice. I say things in my head right and then tbey come out of my mouth with an edge!

    • Yes. I totally hear you! Tone is key. My kids and I both need to work on that one!