Little kids often want to help. In an effort to mimic their parents–they often will reach for the dishcloth, or ask to try the hand spade as you plant the flowers, or attempt to fold a bit of laundry. In the right frame, we find this adorable, give them a few tips, and praise, “Daddy’s little helper.”

Other times, if we’re in a hurry, or if we know that the process is only going to end in frustration because the tool you’re using is impossible for them to lift, let alone operate–it’s easy to grow impatient: “Not right now.” “I’m busy.” “Go play.” “It’s too hard–maybe when you’re bigger.”

Careful–these are important bonding moments. They’re learning not only how to do a task, but whether or not you like having them around. They’re learning about your attitudes toward work–toward cooperation–toward their contributions.

“A child’s service is little, yet he is no little fool that despiseth it.”

George Herbert, outlandish proverbs, 202.