Lots of times we think of teamwork as something related to sports, or people working together on a project for school or business. However, teamwork is a great concept to incorporate into your home life and daily routines. It helps everyone in the family to feel
that their contribution is valued and that they are part of something bigger.
It's a little too easy for the primary caregiver of young children to become the maid, cook and housekeeper for everyone, and for everyone in the home to get used to expecting someone else to take care of them. Most mom's & dad's are comfortable with this arrangement when the kids are little, but find it difficult to get their kids to do chores as they get older. This can result in a nagging tug of war to teach kids to take ownership over their living space and activities.
It is possible from an early age to instill the concept of teamwork into family activities by keeping in mind that this is valuable training for your children's future. Your son's wives will be so grateful to marry a man who can cook, clean the bathroom, wash dishes and mop the floor. Anyone who lives in a house or apartment, eats and uses the bathroom should be able to do these basic things. Your daughters will be more capable of managing their home in the future if they have been raised in a teamwork environment. Kid's who grow up in a home that functions like a team will be better prepared for college and employment.
How and when do you teach them?
As soon as your child shows interest in, or begins to imitate your daily chores, it's time to make them part of the team. Usually around 2 to 3 years old a child will show interest in helping in the kitchen or laundry, or with mopping, sweeping, dusting & tidying up. Invite them to be part of the process by saying, "let's do our work", or "lets work together" and give them a token job that makes them feel like they are working with you. You might let them push the mop handle with you, teach them to fold a small towel, or let them use a feather duster. Make it fun and encourage them by saying things like, "we make a good team" or "it goes faster when we work together" (even if it doesn't).
Think of every activity you do at home or in your daily life as an opportunity to teach your children the value of working together to get something done that will benefit everyone. Whatever your morning routine is to get the family ready for school & work make sure your child has a part to play in the process and they know that doing their part makes everything run smoothly. It can be as simple as getting themselves out of bed and ready on time, or you can also include a task like putting the cereal on the table. The same is true of your evening routines.
More Tips for Teaching Teamwork:
- Stay away from phrases like "help Mommy do her work" because it gives the impression that the job belongs to one person rather than being a job that anyone can do.
- Use "we" or "us" phrases more often than "me" or "you" phrases in relation to jobs, routines and family activities to encourage thinking as a unit.
- Don't stereotype tasks by gender.
- Give age appropriate tasks, but don't be afraid to increase the number of tasks or difficulty level as your child becomes competent with what they are already doing.
- Keep a joyful and lighthearted attitude toward all tasks, and if your child grumbles just say, "these are things we all have to do to take care of ourselves and the things we own."
- As your kids get older have family meetings and talk about the value of being a team and working together to create the lifestyle you want.
- Make sure the kids understand that teams need leaders or captains and that is the parents role.
- Make a chart of all the various tasks that need to be done on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis so your kids will understand that no one person could possibly do everything. Make sure you put your jobs, bill paying and chauffeuring on the list too.
When a family is united and working together toward shared goals everyone feels happier. We all feel our value when we accomplish things, when we feel our contribution is valued by others, when we see a positive outcome from our efforts, and when we can take responsibility for ourselves. Making teamwork a priority in your family will help your children become responsible adults. It will also help you as a parent to transition more smoothly out of the caregiver role, so you can enjoy your relationships with your adult children, and grandchildren more fully.