When you’re a working parent at your wit’s end on keeping the house together, kids in school, meals on the table, etc, it can sometimes be a near-impossibility to gather together sufficient patience to deal with the foibles and newfound efforts to help that little kids try to muster up.
This, from L. Ron Hubbard’s lecture entitled Child Scientology sums up so much of the approach my wife & I try to take:
“You know, that a little kid is tremendous. He will actually try to work to the best of his ability. Most parents are too impatient with children to just let them work, because the children mess things up, and so forth. So, the average child, by the time he’s five, six years old, is somewhat disabused of the idea of working. That’s how you’d really ruin a society.
“You’ve got to spend time – a little girl comes in, and she’s about three, four years old; and you’re mopping the floor, something like that; and the little girl takes a sloppy rag and bangs it into the wallpaper, and so forth. Aw, give her a break. Give her a break. Show her how to wring it out and guide her hand a little bit on the floor and let her mop the floor too. She comes up smiling. ‘What do you know! You mean, I could really maybe be some use someday!’
“Don’t just say, ‘Get out of here now! You’re messing things up,’ and all that sort of thing. Children are people. Don’t forget it! Because the whole problem becomes unworkable the moment you assume anything else. Children are people!”
Obviously, little kids are unskilled at helping one with anything around the house – at first. But the point Mr. Hubbard makes repeatedly throughout the lecture is that kids are not some strange other non-human organism that can only be dealt with on physical level until a certain age or something. Kids are just young people, and you’d want to treat them with the same dignity and respect that you’d treat someone older.