A Lesson From a 7-Year-Old

My 7-year-old Eliza is a great teacher. She can teach her little brothers in a way that really works for them – and for her. Check out this spontaneous shoe-tying lesson she offered yesterday morning (I always mean to pull out my camera when she’s doing stuff like this – finally I caught it on film!).

Notice how Silas is quite patiently trying to get in on the action – and how Eliza turns her attention to him once she’s got Oliver going. Notice the cute triumphant look on Oliver’s face when he ties his first bow. There’s nothing like achieving something new! And there’s nothing like seeing your kids help each other learn and grow – both the teacher and the learner get so much out of it.

I remember one morning when our twins were about one-and-a-half and my oldest, Ashton, was six years old. The twins were still NOT sleeping through the night (they kept waking each other up and I was so sleep-deprived that it didn’t occur to me to have them sleep in separate rooms…) and they were waking up early with messy diapers every morning. Ashton always woke up before the twins (he’s my early bird) so he often played with them in their room until it got light and I could drag myself out of bed. I was so grateful for his help!

One morning, Ashton proudly led his little brothers into my bedroom – they were all dressed and ready for the day. And they didn’t stink. Ashton announced that he’d changed their diapers and got them dressed. He’d enlisted the help of Isaac (5 years old) who held their feet while Ashton did the wiping and diapering. He was practically bursting with pride. And so was I!

I’d taught Ashton to help with a lot of different things around the house but I’d never really thought about teaching Ashton to do diapers. And I’m not sure if he’d have been game to try it if I’d suggested it. But he’d watched me and he knew what to do.

It can be so easy to jump in there and do most everything for our kids. But they can do so much for each other – especially if we encourage them a bit, then stand back and let them go for it!

QUESTION: What do your kids do for each other? How do you encourage this?

CHALLENGE: Help your kids do more for each other.  At first, you’ll probably need to show them what to do and talk them through it plus they might need some encouragement to jump in and help each other when an appropriate situation arises. But once they get a whiff of that joy that comes from helping someone else, they’ll be hooked!


  1. April Perry says

    I love this, Saren!  Please tell Eliza she did a great job, and tell your boys are so darling….

    Since we’ve been so busy with this website, I’ve had to ask my children to help out more around the house out of necessity.  They have totally surpassed my expectations, and now they keep the house fairly clean, they dress their little brother, they pack our family picnic lunches, and they help each other with school poster boards.  I don’t pay them to do this or anything, but since they know I’m only one person, they figure that the sooner they can help me get the work done, the sooner we can all go out and play.  I just make sure we have enough playtime.  Thanks for posting this!

  2. Tiffany Sowby says

    I did a blog post on this very thing just recently.  My oldest daughter was trying to teach my one year old to eat his goldfish crackers from the bowl, rather than dumping the bowl.  Though the lesson in and of itself is somewhat insignificant, I LOVE to see children helping each other.  Isn’t it so rewarding as mothers to see our children showing kindness and helping out one another?  Great video and post.  Thanks.

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