Take out the trash may only be four little words but when you unpack what you’re asking your child to do it involves many steps. It is a process like the morning routine or cleaning your teeth, emptying your backpack or getting ready for a trip.
Here’s the tip that’s often missed with contributions and chores and that’s teaching and showing them more than once. We know it but do we do it.
Teaching and showing is a major part of learning the skill. We don’t hope that they pick up how to clean their teeth we take the time to show them. The dentist shows them and each night we show up with them for a long time to make sure it is done.
Contributions and chores need to be shown not once in a hurry but possibly in parts and regularly as the skill is learned. It’s then that children learn how to do it and can do it for themselves.
Why is showing a big deal?
- We learn a lot from seeing others do. They see how you hold the full bin or the trick to lifting and pulling the drawstrings in one motion.
- They see where you get the cleaning supplies and don’t grab the wrong ones.
- We get to share life together and learn to care for a community item to be part of the family.
- Opportunity to answer the battery of questions about why all the steps and what’s the big deal about cleaning. We get to talk about safety, sanitation, germs, cleanliness in context.
- It’s a time for connection, gentle words and maybe some fun when things fall apart.
- Whether they are 4 or 14 share how to and let them be part of the family team, in the know and not saying, “I can’t do it because I don’t do it right.”
- It shows them that there are important systems and procedures to life. Life mostly doesn’t happened by magic we need to happen to it how we would like.
- For us to discover that there are many ways to do something we feel we have down.
Ever listen to a seven year old tell you how you are emptying the bin all wrong and then watch them marvel at the hooks on the side of the bin that help keep the bin line inside? You can’t help but smile. Don’t miss this step.
This is why we can’t just say, take out the trash. When you look at the list to teach there’s a lot to, taking out the trash, properly. Imagine if your child followed these steps, taking out the trash would run a lot smoother in your home for everyone.
It’s not fair to expect children to guess your standard and ways. It’s better that we teach and show directly and not hope they pick it up or notice. They often don’t. Everyone needs to take out the trash well. It’s a simple thing once you can do it but go to any college flat share and there are some suspect bins.
How to get through that list
That’s a lot to take in so instead of teaching the whole system and all X steps, we’ve had much more success splitting contributions with multiple steps like this into three manageable parts. Why three parts? We have three boys. This gives us two options
a) Each boy learns a different part and together they can all complete the contribution.
b) Each part is mastered before progressing to the next part. It doesn’t have to be in order.
Each option has their pros and cons and by trial and error since this is a learning opportunity each family finds their level for each contribution.
So if you’re finding yourself constantly going behind your child ‘fixing their mess’ because they’ve missed a step or three maybe you should back up and have some show and tell time.
Those four words your children should not be afraid to ask before a task: Show me how again.
Reconnect in a fun and meaningful way so that these contributions have the high expectation of success without the regular nagging and everyone has the chance to deliver because we all know what to do and are competent. Training.
For more systems and rhythms for the home