Mistakes are Part of the Learning Process – Turning Responsibility Over to Kids

Embrace Imperfection Month March 2014 REDUCED

Parents, are you having trouble letting go and turning over some small responsibilities to your kids? Is it because you’re afraid they’ll not do things right or won’t do them the way that you would? (We all know that truly you could do it better.) This is a common issue for parents and to let go of that responsibility and hand it over requires embracing imperfection – plus taking time to train your child a little before you let go.

There are many reasons that parents don’t turn responsibility over to children. One common reason is that kids will make mistakes. Because parents can’t trust kids to “do things right”, many parents simply don’t hand over responsibility to children.

Parents, children need for you to gradually hand over life responsibilities to them and when you do, children will definitely make mistakes as they learn. Mistakes are a normal part of the learning process and actually help teach true responsibility, when parents handle the mistake in a teaching way.

Most parents don’t expect for young children to name their colors the first time a parent asks. When a parent asks what color the sky is, a young child might say “red”. Most parents understand that while learning colors, children will make mistakes. But making mistakes applies to learning lots of things.

 

HELPFUL GUIDELINES FOR TURNING OVER RESPONSIBILITY TO KIDS

  1. Expect Mistakes: Know that mistakes are part of the learning process. Expect that kids will make mistakes. 
  2. Take Time for Training: Spend plenty of time training kids. Have kids watch you complete a chore or emotional skills. Let kids practice the skill while you supervise. Gradually hand the task over to them in small steps. This training process make take five minutes or may take five months depending on the level of the task and the ability level of the child. Children with special needs may take longer to acquire skills than a typical child will.
  3. Train Using Small Steps: Build confidence in kids by giving them small bits of responsibility at a time.
  4. Use Visual Aids: Simple visual reminders can be helpful. We see them at adult workplaces often. There’s a sign in many restrooms to remind employees to wash their hands before they return to work. At my house, we have one sign on the washing machine and one sign on the dryer because our four teens all do their own laundry. The sign on the washing machine reads “Empty All Pockets B4 Washing”. The sign on the dryer reads, “Empty the Lint Filter Before Each Load”.
  5. Ask “What…?” and “How…?”Questions: Instead of nagging when children make mistakes and forget to do things, ask questions that begin with “What” and “How” instead of “Why”.  Question Example I could ask my child – “What do you need to do each time you put laundry in the dryer?”or “How do we keep the lint filter clean?
  6. Calm Down Before Addressing Issues: When you get frustrated or angry when your kids forget responsibilities or make mistakes (and you WILL get frustrated and angry because that’s a normal part of being a parent) take a cool off time before dealing with or addressing the issue if possible. You’ll be more effective in teaching children about taking responsibility for their emotions (by you taking responsibility to cool off) and about learning from mistakes if you can communicate with kindness and firmness.

What else helps you embrace imperfection or helps you hand over responsibility to your kids?

 

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