She dipped her little mop in the red bucket and smiled brightly as she slopped the water on the floor. I cringed at the size of the puddle on the hardwood, but bit my tongue. After all, she was helping. That’s something that should be encouraged. Even if I do have to follow behind her, sopping up the puddles with my larger mop and squeezing the water back into the bucket. At least the floors are done thoroughly by the end of it all.
“Daddy! Daddy! I mopped the floors today!” My daughter is usually bursting with excitement when my husband arrives home from work. “I helped Mommy!”
Last week, I let her make a chicken marinade completely on her own. I gave her the ingredients and let her measure and mix them. She spent the next two days proudly telling anyone who would listen, “I helped make dinner! I made chicken all by myself and it was so yummy!”
It’s more than just the need to do something. It’s the need to do something that matters. Everyone has a need to contribute. To bring value. To know that what they do affects others in a positive way. It doesn’t matter how old you are.
Everyone has the innate desire to make a difference.
I’ve seen this in the workplace, in the church and now in my home. Delegating responsibility is the best way to encourage someone to grow because it satisfies that innate desire while giving the person something to work towards.
The level of responsibility, of course, corresponds with the level of a person’s maturity. Although I did let my four-year old mix up a chicken marinade, I’m not about to let her touch the gas stove. She’ll grow into that responsibility later. Much, much later.
For now, however, I’ll give her responsibilities that she can handle … and continue to bite my tongue when things aren’t done perfectly to my liking. She’s learning and growing. Through mops and marinade, my four-year old is contributing to the family. She’s making a difference in her own small way.
She’s beginning to understand that, even though she’s young, she can still bring value to those around her.
I’d say that’s worth a few extra messes.