Children love when their parents ask them to help with adult activities.  And by adult activities I mean the PG activities like setting the table or decorating the Christmas tree.  When children are asked to help their parents it makes them feel important and helps increase their self esteem and feelings of self worth.  Praise your children for any help they have given even if it looks ugly or creates more of a mess for you later.

Lets use the Christmas tree as in example in this discussion.  Asking your children to help you decorate the Christmas tree makes them feel important and included in an important ritual surrounding Christmas.  The challenge for parents here is to leave the tree looking however it looks when the children are done helping.  This may be difficult for some of us parents who like to control everything, but it is worth having an ugly tree to make your child feel good.  So, even if all the bulbs are in one spot, even if it looks horrible you need to leave it however they placed the ornaments.

Even if other parts of the tree are bare, children will feel better about themselves if you leave the decorations as they placed them.  If you go back and rearrange the ornaments to look “prettier” you are nonverbally telling your children that they did not do a good enough job and therefore are not good enough and/or are inadequate.

Have a silly looking uneven tree for a few years and as visitors come to see it simply state, “Isn’t that the prettiest decorated tree you have ever seen?  Jonny helped me put the decorations in the perfect places.”  This will help to build their self-esteem and shows the world that you are a great parent because you put your child’s feelings ahead of looking perfect.