People usually don’t celebrate Chinese New Year in Spain, and you certainly do not see decorations on the street. However, Chinese New Year is the most important festival in my culture, and I want to introduce some key elements to my multicultural children.
Cleaning the house is one of a Chinese New Year tradition. In Taiwan, while the adults were busy cleaning up the house when toddlers approached to express their interest to help. Parents often think it is too young for toddlers to start, maybe worried about getting wet or too dirty.
The majority of the cleanup work is done by my mother when I was growing up in Taiwan!! So I have decided to change the approach and get my both under three-year-old toddlers involved in chores more regularly. I’ve been getting them to pick up toys when they finish playing or before going to bed routinely.
According to research, children by two to three-year-old love to imitate parents. Among the actions toddlers love to imitate the most are household activities, such as sweeping and mopping the floor. Therefore, besides introducing the Chinese New Year traditions, let’s make this clean up more than just “picking up the toys.”
These are the THREE simple goals to achieve through Chinese New Year cleanup activities with toddlers:
Allow kids to observe and imitate
An imitation is a powerful form of learning commonly used by toddlers. Children, by age two to three-year-old, have developed a strong observation and learning ability. They are usually interested in everything. They want to be part of whatever parents are doing, imitates parents, sometimes insist on doing things by themselves.
When parents are cleaning the house, allow kids to observe, toddlers are usually curious and will charge towards parents very quickly. Note that It is a positive sign when children offer to help proactively. Therefore, instead of declining their request and ask to return to their “play area,”. You can encourage toddlers to participate in the cleaning process. you also can motivate them by saying, “wow! your are a grown-up now! you wants to help, such a good girl!” When children receive validation from parents, not only this can improve a child’s confidence, children usually make an even more significant effort to complete the tasks.
Make it fun & Don’t pick on kids
Parents can assign kids age-appropriate chores, clean up activity can always start with a simple task, and adopt new ones slowly. If the cleaning task is too challenging, perhaps provide rags or small duster for an alternative. Through these activities, you can also demonstrate how to use the tool properly using simple vocabulary.
To make the activity slightly more fun and less dangerous. You can prepared a mini cleaning set in advance and taping some designated areas to provide specific visual instructions.
Toddlers are young, and their learning ability is unlimited. However, even if they would like to help, the results may become a disaster. For instance, broken glasses, flip the trash can, wet clothes, and so forth. Take a deep breath, make sure there is no injury on children, and direct them the proper way of cleaning up.
Don’t get stressed out! Whether they are just trying to play or wanting to help. Children pick up the parent’s anger and anxiety which may also affect their emotions. Remember this is part of the learning process; Take this opportunity to show children that all men make mistakes, learn to accept and fix it. On the other hand, when children complete a task, draw their attention and encourage them to take pride in what they have accomplished.
Not just for New Year’s Eve
Sure, cleaning with kids is challenging, but it can be done. Many experts advise starting young, leaving them out of the cleaning equation till later age does not benefit both parents and children. According to a child and family therapist in Harvouriside Counseling Centre Vancouver, a child is ready to start tidying things when he/she has the motor skills to pick something up and can understand what parents are asking. The earlier the better, it is much harder to teach good habits at an older age.
For toddlers to understand the Chinese New Year cleanup tradition, this has to be done repeatedly each year to create awareness. However, teaching a child to clean up is an essential part of a young person’s development. The mindfulness of the activity develops the mid-prefrontal cortex that is associated with attention span, problem-solving skills, mood, and body regulation. Don’t wait too long to start, and don’t expect the habits will happen overnight, but with a little patience and consistent practice. In the long run, this can teach children responsibility and create a good habit.
Over the course of two weeks of Chinese New Year, there are many ways to design a few activities to introduce this important event to our multicultural children. Here are some of the suggestions: