I remember my daddy teaching me how to wind up a cord so it wouldn’t get tangled. To this day, every time I wind up a cord, I think of that day and the way my daddy patiently taught me.
I can remember watching my grandma cook dinner. She lived with us and every day at 4:30 would begin the preparations. I was thrilled when she let me help her. I knew that it was a big deal and that I was learning something important.
Training our kids and teaching them the things they need to be able to do to be independent can be a wonderful experience. But it can also be challenging.
Develop a training schedule
Decide on what skills you want to teach your child. You can put together a written plan to determine what you want to teach them and when you want to begin.
Introduce the child to the task FAR in advance
For example, you can say, “Matthew, you get to learn how to make salads this year. Isn’t that exciting? I think we’ll work on that in about three months, so in June, we’ll begin.” This does a couple of things.
First, you can gauge his reaction. Matthew may be absolutely ecstatic and want to start immediately. Or, Matthew may absolutely hate salads and hate the thought of making them even more. Knowing this will help you strategize how to go about the training.
Some children will be excited and happy to learn just about everything on the list. Some will like a few things but not others depending on their interests.
Then you will have those treasured ones who fight you on every thing you try to teach them. Patience and firmness are needed on those children. For those who are negative about it, drop the subject and select another time to address it. At this point, it’s enough just bringing it up.
Let them watch
The second good thing about introducing the task well in advance is that you can have an observational training period. Man, didn’t that sound fancy? That means they can watch you do it. As you’re making the salad for dinner you can say, “Matthew, can you get me the celery for this salad? I’m making a green salad. What else should we put in it?”
Then, Matthew can watch you, or whoever is cooking, over a period of a few months. By the time it becomes his job to do it, he’s already learned what to do. That also helps because you have no expectations of Matthew during this time and he can watch you without any stress about having to actually do it at that moment.
Having a training plan, then having a time for the child to watch will really help you be successful in training your kids to be independent. It’s never too late to start. Just ask them what they want to know to be a grown-up, then get started.
A parent basically has to muddle her way through the 18-plus-year adventure, rubbing her eyes from the sleep deprivation. When you approach a mother in the wild, go easy. And maybe avoid these observations or questions when talking to a mom of teens.