One quality every leader really needs? Being able to work well as part of a team. Leaders who understand the need to pitch in, who take pride in contributing to the greater good, and who see the benefits of their work are typically more effective and happy in their lives. Plus? They’re a whole lot more employable.
There are lots of ways you can raise your girl to be a team player—from signing her up for team sports like softball or soccer to getting her involved in a Girl Scout troop—but one of the best ways starts right at home with basic chores. “Your family is the first team your girl will ever belong to,” says Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “Chores can help her recognize and appreciate her role and value within the family unit—especially if you start her out on chores when she’s young.”
And there’s apparently no such thing as too young to help around the house. “There’s no question that toddlers are a little too little to be doing their own laundry—they can’t even reach!” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald, “But even at that age, she can help you put her dirty clothing into the laundry bag.” In fact, there are all kinds of chores that are fully age-appropriate for your tiniest teammate. She’ll feel pride in wiping down surfaces with a damp cloth, putting away her own toys in bins and baskets, and helping you sort and fold socks out of the dryer. “Your preschool girl might take longer to finish a task than you would,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald, “but teaching her that she has something to contribute from such an early age will pay off bigtime down the road.”
As your child gets older and stronger, she can start to take on more complicated responsibilities like taking out the trash, raking leaves, and even making simple family meals. Take the time to really teach her each of these new skills (perhaps by doing them with her the first few times) and then reinforcing how much her time and effort benefits the family as a whole. After all, when everyone takes part in the family responsibilities, they’re finished sooner, leaving more time for fun activities. Plus? Knowing how to do the laundry and cook simple meals will really help her out once she gets to college.
For parents who want to get their elementary school, middle school, or even high school aged girls started on chores—it’s never too late to teach accountability, responsibility, and teamwork through family chores. As your girl gets older, she’ll want more freedom—which is an important and natural part of development. Talk to your girl about the kinds of things she wants (maybe it’s going to a concert with friends, having a social media account, or even one day borrowing your car) and explain that she needs to demonstrate she can be responsible first. How can she do that? By pitching in around the house, staying organized, and showing that you (and the whole family!) can rely on her.
Chores are an amazing way your girl can show her maturity, while also gaining the skills and confidence she’ll need to be an independent, successful adult. And well, let’s be honest, it’s nice to have some help around the house, too!
Forcing her to be friends with kids she doesn't click with isn't a good idea.