How do you teach helpfulness while promoting responsibility? Talk amongst yourselves.
I also expect helpfulness from my kids. They have chores that are framed as "ways they help the family." It helps me prepare dinner when they set the table. It helps Dad do the laundry when they put the dirty clothes down the chute every day.
But a problem has slowly been building in our home, one that's subtle enough that I haven't really recognized it till now. My kids ask for help when they don't need it. Like asking for drinks while they're sitting at the kitchen table and I'm in another room. (That's one of many examples.)
Not a huge deal. I just say "you're closer to the fridge, you can get it yourself," which they do. The problem is that I say this often, and there's this growing air of unhelpfulness floating through the house. I hear my kids telling each other to "do it yourself!" much more often than I see them offering to help each other. Or I see them complete their responsibilities, and then shrug off helping because "their work is done."
I get resentful when my kids, who, in the scheme of things, have very little to do, ask The Very Obviously Busy Person for help with trivial tasks, or jobs they know are their responsibilities.
*hears self starting to whine. takes deep, calming breath.*
Now when I get a request for help on something I think they can do themselves, I say "give it your best try for five minutes. If, after that, you still need help, I'm there." I've been known to set a timer. Most of the time this works.
But I can't shake the feeling that there should be more bi-directional, un-asked-for helping going on in my family, combined with more personal responsibility-taking.
I know, should. Not the most helpful of words. So I'll just ask:
How do you balance teaching helpfulness while promoting personal responsibility?