I discovered that JoyJoy liked to do things for me so sometime in late May / early June this year. So, when she was about 18 months old, I tried asking her to help me bring her soiled clothing to the laundry pails in the kitchen after each clothing change.
She was supposed to put the soiled clothing into the pink basin but it seemed like she didn’t like the idea of having clothing “exposed”, so she took out the contents of the pink basin, removed the pink basin and set it on the floor before putting in all the clothing into the red pail and covered it with the blue basin.
I was happy enough that she understood my instruction to bring the soiled clothing for washing and actually knew where they were supposed to be left at without me telling her. I think she is pretty observant and she remembers what she sees quite well.
After a week or two, whenever I ask her to bring her soiled clothing to “wash” or “洗”, she would bundle them up in her arms, walk all the way to the kitchen and leave it in one of the basin / pails. Sometimes the correct one, sometimes the wrong one.
When I saw that she was doing it quite effortlessly, I got Daddy to move two plastic drawers I have back at my mom’s place for storing JoyJoy’s clothing and related articles and then started to teach her how to retrieve items kept inside.
We started with the top drawer, containing the square handkerchiefs used to clean her face and teeth during bathing. I tapped on JoyJoy’s need to see order by leaving a corner of a handkerchief kiaped by the drawer for her to work on.
She tried to pull and tug at it but it didn’t work. Then she looked at me for help. And I showed her how to pull out the drawer and take out her handkerchief. To my surprise, she could do it on her own after practising 1 – 2 times.
After removing her handkerchief, she looked at me again and I understood that she was wondering what to do with the open drawer. So I showed her that she must not have her fingers at the edge of the drawers when she closes it, all she needed to do was to push the drawer. Again, she picked it up pretty quickly.
And then I asked “衣服呢?” (what about your clothing?) and she asked me ” 衣服 where?”. I pointed at the second drawer and she pulled it out to get one of her onsies before closing it on her own.
After she placed her clothing and handkerchief on the portion of the bed where I usually put them, we moved on to getting her diapers. I had already cut the diaper packaging beforehand and placed them at a height she could easily access.
I held her hand, brought her over and asked if she would like to help me get her diapers. She gave me a smile and said “要!” ( Yes!). It was close to bedtime so I pointed at the pull up diapers and she removed one for me.. and then she proceeded to remove the sticker behind the pull up diaper (something she picked up when she was really young, it was used to distract her during diaper change).
After she removed the sticker, I pointed at the plastic bag, which we used as a trash bag for her soiled diapers and related rubbish, and said “Can you help mummy throw away?”. She nodded her head and threw the sticker.
And then she proceeded to remove one piece of the tape diapers and placed both diapers on the bed as well. I was really amused.
The next and last thing I requested her help with was to retrieve the changing mat from the floor. The mat is too heavy for her to lift all the way to the bed, so she picked it up and passed it to me.
And this, is the outcome of the entire session, she requested to wear the tape diapers instead of her pull ups so I had the pull up diaper removed.
I learnt from this is that there is no harm trying to see if your child is ready, even if you might not be sure that she is. I was very pleasantly surprised that it was easier than expected to get JoyJoy to be my little helper during bath time.
And I think it boasted her confidence that she could help me as well because when I bent down to give her a tight hug and a kiss for helping me, she beamed widely at me and asked me to take a photo of her whilst saying “CHEESE!” I think she was proud of herself as well :)
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