Getting Your 2-Year-Old (or your 18-Year-Old) To Do Chores

The NPR blog Goats and Soda has been commenting on some research comparing Mayan and American child-rearing strategies. The finding of this research is that Mayan children participate in “adult” activities such as household chores from a very young age and seem capable of completing difficult tasks more easily than American children. So, to test it out, writer Michaeleen Doucleff tried the strategy on her 2 1/2 year old. It turns out that yes, her little one is capable of doing household chores and keeping up with it, too; as long as the writer gives her a manageable task. So children are capable of much more than we have expected of them, at least what we expect of them in American culture. Culture is complex and dynamic. and there are many aspects to this particular phenomenon. But the point here is this: your children are much more capable than you might think.

A couple of weeks ago, I published a video about this kind of activity. In it, I make cookies with a couple of 2 and 1/2 year old twins (aka adult actors that are fantastic at pretending to be two year olds). They are excited to participate, but maybe too excited to be productive. This doesn’t need to end in a stalemate! Doing complex activities can be learning experiences that end in a better-functioning family environment. Watch the video here: