Who Empties Your Dishwasher?

who empties your dishwasherSo who empties your dishwasher?  The answer to this question tells a great deal about your parenting philosophy.

If you or your partner usually empty your dishwasher then I humbly suggest that you maybe working too hard.

If one or all your kids (over the age of three) have this job then congratulations, you’re travelling down the road toward redundancy, and your children are heading toward independence.

Many parents would love their kids to do this task but pragmatism (“It’s easier to do it myself.”); lack of faith (“They’re sure to break something!”) and unwillingness to let go (“It’s my job after all.”) get in the way.

Why the dishwasher?

Good question. Here are seven good reasons:

1.These days almost every house has one, and it’s a job that just has to be done!

2. It’s fiddly & tedious; and it needs to be done right, which is a great lesson for kids to learn.

3. Kids also learn everything has a place in the kitchen, which is a great lesson for those who are organisationally-challenged. Knowing your way around the kitchen is also an important the first step toward children making their own snacks and preparing meals. That’s a worthy aim!

4. It’s emptied every morning/day, second morning/day so kids learn about routine.

5. As it needs to be emptied whether they feel like it or not kids learn about grit (the ability to stick at a task even though it’s boring) and self-control (through delaying gratification) two important character strengths that contribute to kids’ success.

6. If they don’t do it then who will? It teaches kids that others rely on them. Believe me, I see many young people who’ve never learned this lesson at home!!!

7. Kids are hard-wired to help but they need the opportunity to do their bit at home. And the great opportunity that is the dishwasher is always there!!

There are plenty of other reasons for putting the dishwasher on the kids’ chores list, but that should be enough to get you thinking.

Okay, it doesn’t have to be the dishwasher?

Smart parents put principles into practice to suit their circumstances.

So, if you buy into the notion that kids should routinely help at home without being paid and that your aim is to make yourself redundant BUT…..

……getting them to empty the dishwasher just doesn’t cut it in your world, make sure they do other labourious tasks, that are regular and that benefit others.

Having no dishwasher has its advantages

Of course, families without a dishwasher have a great communication mechanism at their disposal. That is, one person washing (a parent) and the other drying (a child/teenager) provides a fabulous shoulder-to-shoulder parenting opportunity. As many parents have discovered, when a child or young person’s hands are busy their tongue suddenly loosens up and the chat happens naturally.

Gradually, then suddenly

If getting kids to help is an uphill battle then I suggest you keep expecting them to help. Keep working on a chores roster and keep at your kids to do the right thing. One day it will all click and helping out will become habitual, impacting on their brains so helping out becomes neurological as well as psychological.

That’s why gradually, then suddenly is a really useful parenting mantra. The Australian cricket team’s recent success can be attributed to this approach.. They’d been gradually improving by doing all the right things throughout 2013 without success and then suddenly it all clicked in the Australian summer. But that’s another story…….


NB: This article first appeared on the ParentingIdeas blog.

PS: For more practical ideas to raise awesome and truly confident kids join the Parentingideas Club. You’ll be so glad you did.

Michael Grose

Michael Grose is the current Channel 9 Today Show parenting commentator, reaching parents Australia-wide on a regular basis.He is also the author of 8 parenting books, including his latest release Thriving! and the best-selling Why First Borns Rule the World and Last Borns Want to Change It.

A popular presenter, Michael Grose speaks to parents, teachers and principals on a regular basis.Michael comes from an education background, and has conducted post-graduate research into what makes healthy families tick.He's given over 1500 parenting presentations, including the first parenting seminar in Parliament House, Canberra.Michael is married with three adult children who have all successfully flown the parent nest.

Latest posts by Michael Grose (see all)