Teaching children a life skill is harder than it seems. As a parent, this can be extremely frustrating. The positives, though, are worth the trouble. Consider this, the sooner our kids know how to help around the house, the sooner they can help us around the house!
More importantly, and beyond our own benefit, ensuring they’ve got the most recent software update on self-sustaining skills like tying their shoes and reading a clock provide the daily boosts of confidence and personal growth that a child needs.
This comes down to one question we receive again and again when it comes to teaching children. It falls into something I call The Bermuda Triangle of Education. It’s a place where so many of us go wrong, and yet the principles to get out are actually quite simple.
There are three parts of this triangle. Our own desire to teach leads us to believe that we should already know how to teach. When a child fails to learn, we pull in the other two aspects of this triangle of doom. Children are smart: they feel the pressure and obligation that parents add to their teaching.
These three features: a desire to teach, thwarted by pressure and obligation, lead to the cranky learning experience so many of us are trying to overcome in our homes!
Listen to hear exactly where we’re going wrong and how we can approach teaching tasks and tools in a way that helps kids want to use them.
Learning and Loving
Think about the energy you bring to teaching – is it joy and excitement or pressure, shame, and anxiety? Kids are smarter than we give them credit for. They pick up any emotional undertones present, even if they’re not quite sure what to do with the information.
Don’t force it. Set aside time where both you and your child can be emotionally and physically invested in whatever the learning challenge, and keep your mindset in the right place – supporting them with love, patience, and variety.
The Back-End Commitment
For instance, if you show a child how to make their bed, they know you’ll expect them to start making the bed themselves every day. It might seem like a simple task to you, but the looming responsibility can feel like a lot for a child to take on. On top of that, they may feel pressure to showcase themselves as having learned the skill well to be worthy of your invaluable praise. The pressure and obligation can lead to a meltdown of willingness.
You don’t want to turn up the heat of pressure and obligation, which is not a good environment for learning. For parents and caregivers, the key is to not give up when a skill doesn’t sink in right away. Remain focused and calm. Just because the child gets something one day doesn’t mean that it’s going to come naturally every single time they try it. Using a new skill is reliant on a lot of factors, and some days will come easier than others. The last thing you want is for your child to sense you’re worried or disappointed in them during the learning process.
What if we change our approach to one of play? No obligation, no pressure. Tune in for additional ideas for how to take a skill and nurture it rather than require it.
Listen to the episode for a full rundown of the pitfalls I see parents stumble into time and time again, and some of the best tactics for instilling a skill, as education, alongside a true sense of joy or pride in using it.
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