You are your child’s first and most important teacher. Every day you’re helping your child learn new information, skills and ways of behaving.
Teaching skills to children can be an important first step in managing their behavior. For example, if your child doesn’t know how to set the table, she might refuse to do it – because she can’t do it. The solution? Teaching her how.
There are three key ways you can help children learn everything from basic self-care to more complicated social skills:
* instructions. This is just teaching your child how to do something by explaining what to do or how to do it. You probably give instructions and explanations to your child all the time.
* modelling. Through watching you, your child learns what to do and how to do it. When this happens, you’re ‘modelling’.
* step by step. Some tasks or activities are complicated or involve a sequence of actions. For these, you can break down the task into smaller steps
Remember that skills take time to develop, and practice is important.
It is very important to provide kids with a structure in order to discipline them but with a positive and subtle approach. Because the question is do we want to help our kids or do we want to hurt them? So, empathy and patience are the keys.
First of all - explain. Not give orders, but explain why, what for and with illustration of possible outcomes. For example, we as grown-ups know the importance of brushing teeth twice a day, but the child resists. Explaining is not “I have told you a thousand of times that you have to brush your teeth, I am done explaining”. You explain what exactly the toothbrush does, how it cleans the teeth and what would happen if the child won’t play along. I made a story for my son that crystals of sugars are like little monsters – they are sporadic and funny, but can be dangerous. If they overtake your teeth, they dig holes in them to live and he won’t be able to get rid of them, and therefore can’t eat any more sweets. He decided he wants to be in control of his mouth and now happily runs to me with a toothbrush screaming “Mom, lets get rid of the little monsters”. Of course, any parent knows his child better and therefore the stories have to fit. If this doesn’t work try to expand and say to the child – you explain me why do I keep talking to you about this. I assure you that little creative mind will come with something solid. That also gives you an opportunity to identify the gaps in their knowledge and adjust your approach.
Thus, next important step is to explore. You say – hey, despite all our explanations you seem to resist and do it your way. Can you help me to understand what it is like to be you, what are your solutions, why do you think this is so? It is about getting into the space of your child. Not intrude, bur actually try to understand what is going on in their heads, what are their perceptions and where do they come from. In digital age, the kids have access to much more information as we did as kids. So, it is very important to be in a constant communication with your child, be their friend and a trustee, see the world through their eyes. We all are surrounded by devices and we can’t deny the great influence of social media on us, but we can guide the kids.
And then you empower, which means you say – all right you know what is expected, I have explained it to you and you have explained it to me. I get it how it is for you because we have explored it, I really understand what it is like to be you, I know some things can be difficult, but where do we go from here? What do you think the best solution would be? So, we give the power to the child. That teaches kids responsibility and empowers them to be the masters of their own decisions. Now, if they come with the idea that seems not such a good one (remember we still know more just because we have more experience, but it doesn’t mean we can rob our kids of their own) – you say ok, that is an option of course, but look if we pursue it to the logical end do you see it really working. Because from my perspective I can’t see it working, can you? Do you still want to try this out or shall we think it over? Is there an alternative you think? Of course, this is a slower process as compared to saying just go and do it as I said. I am a parent and I know better. But then it is a break of trust and a road to conflict relationship. It can take couple of days or weeks, but what you get is a buy-in. If you spend time explaining, exploring and empowering it would bring fruit in a long run. And at some point, kid will do what you ask, because they feel it is a right and fair way and they will be willing to do it.