January 14, 2019
Have you noticed it seems tougher for today’s parents to let their children complete tasks on their own, like using tools, helping out in the kitchen, setting the table or simply picking out their own clothes? Why is that? Maybe parents fear the judgment of others or that the tasks will take too long or not be done properly. No matter the reason, children need these teachings to experience a sense of accomplishment, to make mistakes, to learn accountability for their actions, and to build self-esteem and confidence so they can one day become responsible adults.
- To nurture your child’s sense of responsibility, the first step is to be a good leader! The adult is the one who must:
- offer opportunities for the child to practise;
- allow and accept mistakes;
- accept that not everything will be done perfectly;
- explain with gestures, words and images for a better understanding of the task at hand;
- be patient and indulgent with yourself and the child;
- provide guidelines and limits that are clear, consistent and coherent.
- Start with small responsibilities that are part of a daily routine, such as putting away toys, getting dressed, washing up, or brushing their teeth. These activities encourage independence and allow the child to enjoy victories. The child can easily start to learn these skills early on if you turn them into games. It’s important to foster and encourage the development of your child’s self-esteem and confidence. These gifts to your child are precious, priceless and will last a lifetime.
- Sit down with your child and use charts, images or drawings to establish the tasks that will become everyday responsibilities or part of his or her daily routine. This exercise will provide clear guidelines, allowing your child to understand what he or she has to do, one step at a time. The brain needs images and tables to better comprehend, and then translate into action.
- Your child will need reminders and signs that call their tools to mind. You have to guide them. A simple sentence will help: “How far are you on your list or in your routine?”, “What have you done so far?”, “Do you need me to help you?”, and so forth. This is extremely important if you want them to complete their tasks.
- If your child is reluctant, give them a clear directive and two choices. For example: “You have to set the table. Do you want to listen to some music, or create a dance?”, “Are you setting the table with your widest smile or your best funny face?” Here’s a tip: use their interests to draw their attention and get a positive response.
- As long as the task is not completed, the child can’t move on to the next activity. Don’t forget to remain calm and poised. Your child will try to test your limits to see how far you are willing to go!
- Of course, it would be much easier and faster to do it yourself! But do you really want your child to become an immature adult lacking in self-esteem, confidence and resourcefulness when faced with everyday challenges? I suggest you be the leader your child needs. Use a directive voice tone and a deeper intonation to gain attention. Stand up straight with both feet on the ground to show them you’re serious and you won’t change your mind.
- Games and humour will be effective allies. They will help you control your mood and keep a relaxed atmosphere.
- Use positive requests instead of threats and criticism. Avoid saying “can you,” “could you,” and “do you want to.” You are not suggesting; you are giving instructions to be respected. You should say: “Come on, it’s bath time,” “Set the table, please,” “Come empty the dishwasher,” etc.
- Throughout this journey, remember that it’s beneficial and rewarding for children to hear praise and encouragements whether they succeed or fall short. Remember, your child is learning and perfection is not the goal!
I recommend you find tools to keep calm, patient and, most importantly, determined in your effort to help your child develop their self-esteem, confidence and independence with pride. These tools will help you set routines and build responsibility within your family. Good luck!
Laithicia Adam, Family Coach
Founder and director of Lili Rescousse
Member of Réseau Nanny Secours