Catherine Gaffaney is a general reporter based in Auckland.

Kiwi kids able to use cellphones and remotes, but can't do basic household tasks

Teaching children simple tasks like making  their own lunches helps  prepare them for harder challenges, says a psychologist. Photo / 123RF
Teaching children simple tasks like making their own lunches helps prepare them for harder challenges, says a psychologist. Photo / 123RF

Many Kiwi kids can use a cellphone and operate a remote - but can't make their own bed or simple meals, according to a new survey.

The survey by Sanitarium found 78 per cent of parents of children aged 5 to 7 said their child could use a cellphone and 89 per cent had mastered the remote, but only 29 per cent could make their own lunch.

Of that age group, 67 per cent of kids made their bed and 63 per cent made their breakfast.

Auckland psychologist Sara Chatwin said the results were "concerning" as household tasks were important for teaching children resilience, independence and basic problem solving.

"It's all very well taking over to get the job done quickly and well, but this detracts from children's simple skill knowledge and learning."

Chatwin warned parents against always doing simple tasks for their children.

"By allowing children to take part and get involved with the simple things like cooking, doing some chores and preparing small meals, you're ensuring that your children have some of the basic skills.

"We need to be careful we are helping to grow well-rounded children - not dependants."

Chatwin believed teaching children simple tasks helped them understand the dynamics of harder tasks.

"Just because the world has become more social media savvy and seemingly complicated that does not mean that parents have to blindly accept these advances and changes to the detriment of making beds, stacking dishwashers and being capable of making a meal for oneself.

The Sanitarium Weet-Bix Better Brekkie survey of 1000 Kiwis also found 44 per cent of parents with children aged 5 to 15 made their children's breakfasts because they didn't want the mess to clean up, were always in a hurry, or their child didn't know how to make their breakfast.

It's not the first revelation that some young Kiwi children lack basic skills.

In September, the Herald revealed some children were starting school without the ability to speak in sentences, which sparked a government investigation.

The lack of speech skills was partially blamed on children spending too much time in front of screens and using electronic devices.

Tips for encouraging independence

Allow children to take part in simple things like cooking and doing chores.
Allow children to make their own simple meals to create good habits around food.
Don't always step in and problem solve for children, allow them to work out things on their own.

- NZ Herald

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