The hardest parenting lesson for most parents to stop telling kids what to do.
Most think it is much easier to bark out orders than to let them figure things out on their own.
Letting them take the initiative requires time and patience, neither of which most parents lack.
Ergo, the net results are kids who relied heavily on parents to tell them what they needed to do, when they needed to do it, and where they needed to be.
They had become expert direction followers.
Parents need to modify their behaviour in a bid to raise independent children.
By talking less and questioning more, parents compel children to listen, think and solve problems on their own.
Through some trial and error, one will eventually stumble on the right questions.
“What is your plan … ?”
“What is your plan after dinner/this weekend/to study for your math homework?”
Asking this question helps your child begin to develop a sense of time.
For the most part, your child lives in two worlds: the “now” and the “not now.”
They have a very difficult time making the connection that what they have to do later (in the day or the week or the month) can and should affect what needs to be done now.
This lack of “future awareness” is one of the hardest concepts to teach and one of the hardest to learn.
It is the essence of time management.
This question is an organic way for children to begin to formulate routines and schedules and remember what they need to accomplish in the process.
“What do you need to do in order to … ?”
This question helps your child build visual checklists for responsibilities such as getting ready for an excursion, getting ready for school or helping with the dishes.
Another great one is “What is the first step for starting your homework/studying for your test?”
If a child is picturing the whole picture all at once, they might feel overwhelmed and not know where to start.
You might also ask “What are your priorities today?”—a question that requires the brain to do some heavy lifting.
For younger children, use specific language to help them see what is in front of them: “What do you need to do in an hour/before dinner/after rehearsal?”
“How are you going to remember?”
Are you going to write it down? Take a photo? Text it to yourself? The list is endless.
“What could possibly get in your way?”
This question helps your child to foresee potential barriers and plan ways around them.
Perhaps they must finish their homework this weekend, but their friends sent a birthday invite. How will they work around this?
Finally, “Tell me, what do you know?”
Deploy this anytime they say, “I don’t know” in response to a question.
This gives you a starting point.
In other words, by asking instead of telling, you’re requiring your children to do some problem-solving.
Do this consistently, and you all will begin to reap rewards—more skill building for them, less exasperation for you.
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