As a child psychologist, I could tell you all about the

positive outcomes of your child's prosocial behaviors. (More on that here.)

It's true, when children learn to help others, they gain valuable interpersonal

and perspective-taking skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.


as a mama, I can tell you that it just makes life easier to have a tiny (and

adorable) personal assistant lending a hand around the house!

So, how can we mamas promote helping behaviors in our little

ones? It's all in the timing!

A recent study

from the University of California examined children's helping behaviors from 11


to 24 months and found that most tots begin helping others around their first

birthday. What's more? How we mamas choose to encourage helping behaviors (and when) is related to our children's

decisions to help out.

The study, published in Child

Development, found that encouraging, praising, and thanking children for

their help around the first year (13-15 months) was related to more

helping behaviors around the second year (19-24 months).

Interestingly, praising and thanking children for their help

at 19 months was related to less

helping behavior at 24 months.

Positive responses to children's help seem to promote more helping behaviors when our little ones are first learning these skills. But as our tots become more proficient at helping, reinforcement may not be needed as much and may undermine intrinsic desires to help.

Of course, if you are asking for help with

something that your older child has no interest in, it probably doesn't hurt to

acknowledge their efforts. (Who wouldn't appreciate a pat on the back for folding

that daily mountain of laundry?)

So, what are some different ways that our little ones can

help out around the home?


Sweeping floors


Putting clothes in the washer


Putting plates on the table


Putting toys away


Participating in getting dressed


Fetching needed items

At the end of the day, the best way to foster helping

behaviors is to promote intrinsic motivation to help. In order to encourage a

genuine desire to help, let's take a minute to explore the mind of the toddler

(scary, I know)…

Why exactly do toddlers want

to help? According to the UC study, a few things may motivate our little



They enjoy helping because they get to be

involved with you, mama!


They love the feeling of accomplishing an assigned task (just like adults do)!


They enjoy mastering new motor skills (almost as

much as we enjoy them mastering the art of sweeping)!


They like imitating our actions, so joining in

on chores allows them to engage in the highest form of flattery.


When they get a bit older, they enjoy correcting

wrongs. If the TV remote is in the wrong spot, just watch your tot remedy this

dire situation.


By the time they are two, they have an intrinsic

desire to see people receive the help that they need…and what could be sweeter

than that?

Motherhood is a practice in learning, growing and loving more than you ever thought possible. Even as a "veteran" mama of four young sons and one newly adopted teenager, Jalyssa Richardson enthusiastically adapts to whatever any given day has in store—a skill she says she's refined through the years.

Here's what just one day in her life looks like:

Jalyssa says she learned to embrace agility throughout her motherhood journey. Here's more from this incredible mama of five boys.

What is the most challenging part of your day as a mom of five?

Time management! I want to meet each of the boys' individual needs—plus show up for myself—but I often feel like someone gets overlooked.

What's the best part of being a mom of five?

The little moments of love. The hugs, the kisses, the cuddles, the smiles... they all serve as little reminders that I am blessed and I'm doing okay.

Are there misconceptions about raising boys?

There are so many misconceptions about raising boys. I think the biggest one is that boys don't have many emotions and they're just so active all the time. My boys display many emotions and they also love to be sweet and cuddly a lot of the time.

What do you think would surprise people the most about being a mom of five?

How much I enjoy it. I never knew I wanted to be a mom until I was pregnant with my first. My desire only grew and the numbers did! I am surprised with every single baby as my capacity to love and nurture grows. It's incredible.

How do you create balance and make time for yourself?

Balance for me looks like intentional planning and scheduling because I never want my boys to feel like they aren't my first priority, but it is extremely difficult. What I try to do is not fit it all into one day. I have work days because motherhood is my first priority. I fit in segments of self-care after the kids' bedtime so I don't grow weary.

What's the biggest lesson you have learned from motherhood?

I have learned that sacrifice is actually beautiful. I was terrified of the selflessness motherhood would require, but I've grown so much through the sacrifice. There is nothing better than living for something bigger than myself.

When did you first feel like a mom? How has your motherhood evolved?

I first felt like a mom when I was pregnant with my first son and I intentionally chose to change my eating habits so my body could be strong and healthy for him. I didn't have to think twice—I just did what I thought would be best for him. That decision being so effortless made me realize I was made for motherhood.

My perspective has changed with each baby as I've realized motherhood doesn't have to be one-size-fits-all. With my first son, I was a by-the-book mama and it was so stressful. With each baby, I have felt more freedom and it has made motherhood so much more beautiful. I have evolved into the mother that they need, I am perfect for these boys.

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