The past two years, we’ve received letters from school requesting parents to send notes of the “good deeds” their child does during Lent. The teachers like to acknowledge said deeds with a special sticker or treat. Each year, I get frustrated at the examples provided. Examples of suggested good deeds include making their bed, holding open a door, setting the dinner table, etc. Good deeds? In my opinion, those are the things school age children should be expected to do. If we acknowledge those as the extra, what is the norm?
Maybe my child is an anomaly. Maybe our requirements are a bit much for a 6 year old. Our son is required to make his bed, bring his dirty clothes downstairs and return his clean clothes back to their proper spot (hanging in the closet or folded in a drawer). We also expect help with setting the table and definitely holding a door open for the next person. Additional responsibilities include cleaning his playroom, feeding and watering our dogs, as well as help around the house when needed. He isn’t rewarded for these behaviors.
I did send notes of his good deeds. This year, his notes included such things as visiting a local nursing home to help plant a garden and assisting with cooking dinner. In today’s world, I believe we are over-rewarding basic behavior making the most mundane task seem like a great achievement.
Children can learn a great deal by assigning them tasks at a young age. Children taught responsibility will have a greater appreciation for what it takes to run and manage a household. They will see chores such as laundry or cooking dinner as a family obligation rather than something mom or dad have to complete. Once they get a sense of understanding, they may even offer to help with additional responsibilities knowing play time doesn’t begin until work ends.