4 ways for kids to master a task

We all want our children to grow up and be independent adults. But figuring out how to get them there can be challenging.

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  • We all want our children to grow up and be independent adults. Yet, figuring out how to get them there can be challenging.

  • Good parents teach and train their children along the way so that they can learn and be ready to be completely independent.

  • This takes time. Sometimes we're tempted to just clean the room ourselves or empty the garbage cans when the kids are slow to do their chores. But if we keep doing everything for our children, they will be completely unprepared when they're adults. That is bad for everyone.

  • Hold many practice sessions

  • After many training sessions, allow the child to have some practice sessions. Have them perform the task, then you check it. Make the checking fairly positive. If they do it incorrectly, you can say, "Oh, maybe you didn't understand this clearly when we were training. Let's practice this." Have them do it over and over. Be quite open about things.

  • Adding tasks as chores

  • Often, it helps to have these "practice sessions" become chores. Say, for example, you've taught your daughter how to weed the flowerbeds. You can then have it assigned as her chore for three months so that she can have lots of opportunities to practice. Be sure and check her afterward to see if more teaching needs to occur. Make sure it's "teaching," not yelling, criticizing, or berating.

  • If your child is consistently doing a poor job, stop and pull it off his chores and go back to training sessions. Sometimes the sessions are two minutes. Sometimes a little longer. "OK, here's how you use a vacuum." Boom. Two minutes. "Now you try it." Bingo. About 1 to 2 times and you're done. Much of the training will be this simple.

  • Having many of these tasks incorporated into chores really reinforces the training and allows lots of practice.

  • Mastery and incorporation into lifestyle

  • Eventually, the child will master the task. When that happens, step back and let them incorporate it into their lifestyle. When your child learns how to make his or her own doctor's appointments, stand back. Hand them the phone and say, "Here, honey, you need a physical for camp. Make the doctor's appointment" and let them have at it.

  • The general rule: If they can do it, don't do it for them

  • If they can make their snacks, let them. If they can pick out their clothes, let them. This not only makes them more independent, it also helps them develop self-confidence.

  • As your children acquire these skills and master them, let them go and become part of their own lives. This can sometimes be difficult to do. But resist the urge to slow your kids down.

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Merrilee Boyack is a mom of four sons, grandma to two and an attorney, author, and professional speaker.  

Website: http://www.MerrileeBoyack.com

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