Home repairs can often be a hassle, but if you can turn them into a teaching moment, they can also be a great way to spend some quality time with your family and impart some important lessons. Committing to DIY fixes when possible and getting your kids involved in simple home repairs is a great way to start teaching them independence, responsibility, and a life-long love of relying on their own skills to solve their problems before turning to the professionals for help.
While you should always let them know that it’s okay to ask for help and that sometimes professional assistance is the best way to go for projects that are above your skill level, you can impart a healthy love of hard work by showing them just how much they can accomplish on their own, or with a little help from you. Before too long, you’ll be able to step back and allow them to work out a problem entirely on their own.
You can start with teaching them how to change the batteries in a simple smoke detector or how the light switches work, then up the difficulty as they get older and can handle more complicated instructions. Here are some fun and easy ways you can start to get your kids involved with home repairs.
Fixing a broken, sagging, or rotted fence is a great first project to get your kids involved in. Even if they just keep you company and hand you a nail here and there, they’ll likely feel a sense of accomplishment once the project is done. If your children are a little older, you can even let them nail up new boards or help you dig and set posts. Either way, use this as a way to teach them the value of doing small things for themselves whenever they’re capable.
This is also a great time to start teaching them basic safety around tools and what not to do with them. Older children might even benefit from learning more high-concept things, like the basics of how to organize and plan a fencing or other construction project. You can also make sure they know the proper way to use a hammer, a ruler, a level, and so on.
If the issue isn’t bad enough for you to call a plumbing service, then getting your kids involved in repairing a sink or a drain is a great way to help build their skills and confidence. This is a good project for multiple ages as younger children can assist in handing in tools you may need while older children can assist with the repair itself. This will also help them develop a useful set of skills they can use later on in life, which will likely help their self-confidence as well.
It’s best if you approach complicated systems in an easy-to-digest way at first, then build from there as your children grow or as you realize that they’ve really understood the material. Start with the basics of how drains and pipes work and help us live in modern society, then move to more specific aspects of whatever issues you’re addressing. Teach them both the proper and common names of tools and fittings as you know them.
Repairs to the air conditioner can be more complicated than you might expect, but if you have a good knowledge of the system you’re working with and your children are capable of following your directions, this is a great project to involve them in. Start with the pieces they’re likely to recognize, such as the fan, then add in the more complicated components as you go.
Working on large systems can feel daunting, so be sure to break it down and go in steps so that no one gets overwhelmed. This is also a good time to teach them about safety around large systems and equipment, as well as when it might be time to call in a professional, after they’ve determined the problem is beyond their knowledge or their current skill level.
Working on a heating system together can help give your kids a useful skillset they can use when they’re eventually out on their own. Whether it’s contained in an HVAC unit, a baseboard heater, or another unit like a radiator, fixing the heat themselves can not only save them money in the future but will boost their self-confidence and help them feel capable.
Depending on the age of your children, now can also be a good time to reinforce more basic lessons, like being careful with tools and not touching hot surfaces. If your children are a little older, they may enjoy learning a little of the history behind the sort of heater they’re working on. Do a little research and pull a few interesting facts to share the next time you get together to work on a radiator or a baseboard heater.
Similar to fencing repairs, building something is a wonderful way to teach your kids self-reliance and give them a sense of accomplishment. This project will look a little different based on the age of your children, but even if you end up doing most of the work, having your kids keep you company while you walk them through the process still gives them valuable knowledge they can apply to their own projects later in life.
Building a dock from scratch gives you a chance to block out every part of the project with them, from the early planning stages all the way through to finish carpentry. By the end, you’ll have not just a new structure, but a well-rounded lesson about seeing things through as well.
Basic building repairs are an excellent way to introduce your kids to DIY fixes. Start with simple things, like changing the batteries in a smoke detector, before moving on as they grow and can handle more complex topics and instructions. Remember that getting your kids involved doesn’t mean you have to have them do all the work. If you can, work together on larger projects to provide them with not only a safety net but some quality time with a parent as well.
These basic fixes are also a great time to teach them the proper way to use specific tools, such as a ladder. For example, make sure they understand that the base of the ladder has to be flat and stable before they start to climb, that they should keep three points of contact at all times, etc. before you let them move on to the next topic. You can also take this time to reinforce rules about being careful around electricity, such as when changing outlets or switches.
Roofing is a large topic and can be home to a long list of lessons and a lot of quality time if you know where to look. Getting your kids involved in roof repairs might be tricky depending on their age, but most children can at least keep a parent company while they plan a project or while they work. If your kids are older and can be on the roof with you safely, use this time to teach them what to look for on and around the roof of a house. Inspect the gutters, check the flashing, and look over the shingles to be sure everything is clean and in good shape.
This will not only teach them basic roofing skills, but also impart some important knowledge about what goes into homeownership and ways to make sure your home isn’t being damaged by something you could have easily noticed and fixed if you had known what to look for.
As an example of a project to involve your kids in, if your roof has asphalt shingles, you’ll likely need to inspect and possibly replace some of them as they age or if they’re damaged. This project can involve children of various ages depending on how involved you’d like them to be in the actual work. A very young child may only be able to assist in the planning stages of roofing, for safety reasons, but an older child may be able to help you carry tools, correctly set up a ladder, inspect the shingles, and possibly even replace them.
Roofing may seem like a very difficult thing to get children involved in, but children often feel empowered by even the smallest sense of having been helpful, especially if they’re younger or if larger projects are new to them. While it’s never a good idea to push children to do more than they’re ready to handle, many of them will be willing to jump in with repairs so long as you’re around to guide them through it.
Fixing simple issues with a car can help give a child or young adult a sense of self-reliance and an increased feeling of self-esteem. Even learning the basics of auto body repair can help jump-start a life-long love of working on cars and relying primarily on their own skills to solve problems.
As with everything else, start simple. Teach them how to change a flat tire and check the oil before you try to show them how to repair an engine, especially in a newer car. If you have older children, you can look into doing more physically intensive work, like body repair.
One of the biggest projects you can undertake with your children is that of restoring a car. While it’s not a project for the faint-hearted and is likely to take upwards of a thousand hours to be fully complete, it will not only give you and your kids a lot of memories and quality time, but the skills it teaches run the gamut from simple patience, to budgeting, to more hands-on work like repairing an engine or changing a flat tire.
Involving your kids in DIY repairs around the home early in their lives, and continuing the involvement as they grow is a wonderful way to teach them not only self-reliance and independence, but reinforce valuable skill sets they can use throughout their lives.
When it comes right down to it, there are many ways to involve others in your DIY repairs you know the sort of opportunities you want to look for. Are your children very young? Stick to simple fixes that involve only a few steps and don’t place them near anything too dangerous. If your children are slightly older, you can add in more complexity and teach them about things like electricity and HVAC systems. If your children are grown or nearly grown, you can involve them much like you would involve any other adult.
Never underestimate the value of long-form projects. Especially if your children are young now, get them involved in a long-form DIY project with you. This will not only give you a lot of quality time together over a number of years, but it will teach your child a long list of useful lessons, not the least of which are independence, self-reliance, and resiliency. Being able to realistically rely on their skill sets to solve their problems also often boosts self-esteem and helps children feel valued and helpful.
While you should always enlist help when a project is above your skill level, imparting a love of hard work and self-reliance in your children is far from a bad thing. Look for any opportunity you can to involve your children in your projects and give them a little of that self-esteem and confidence yourself. They’re sure to thank you for it when they’re older.