One of the big issues I have with my 3 1/2-year-old is that he gets bored (apparently) and therefore bothers me with questions, requests, and so on. “Mom, what’s that? Where are you going? Why did you put that there?” and so on, are typical questions.
I can only take so much of feeling like he’s watching my every move. Plus, I believe that at his age, he is capable of entertaining himself for long periods of time (an hour, for example) without engaging me in what he’s doing. I have various strategies to deal with him being underfoot, but one that came to light this morning is giving him chores to do.
I have a set of four chores that I intend for him to do every day (unfortunately, we don’t always get around to them, but I need to do a better job of being consistent). He is capable of doing these chores on his own, but not always willing. It is my job to insist that he do his chores. I don’t concern myself with what order they are done in, and when possible, I don’t worry about how much dilly-dallying he does. However, if he is supposed to be doing his chores but he is making a nuisance of himself, then I get involved. My goal is for him to learn that Mom getting involved is not in his best interest.
(This is something that I learned from John Rosemond: Today’s parents tend to believe that being as involved as possible is a good thing, whereas parents of the past understood that their children need as much independence as possible.)
Anyhow, the thought rolling around in my head this morning is that I need to be consistent with him doing his regular chores every day, and I also need to come up with some chores for him to do when he seems to need something to do. As in, the old fashioned parenting practice wherein a child wasn’t too likely to tell his parent that he was bored, lest he be put to work! Ideally, these chores will be not a lot of fun (they can’t involve the vacuum cleaner, for example, since he loves the vacuum) and they will not require involvement from me.
One of my ideas is to get out a denture brush that I use for cleaning, and the chore will be to scrub the grout on our kitchen floor. No water, soap, etc., will be involved, because frankly, it will be too messy and too much fun for him, and more work for me. Of course, the grout won’t really get cleaned, but Adam will get the idea that the alternative to him playing on his own is not a lot of fun.
It is my impression that parents of past generations had no qualms about doing this sort of thing, and I won’t, either.