A lot of bonding goes on between parents and children, especially dads and boys when there is friendly wrestling, arm wrestling, shoving, and playful punching. This physical contact between fathers and sons can lock in messages such as, “We enjoy goofing around together, ” “You’re tough, ” “You’re growing up, ” and “You’re just too strong for me anymore.”
Kids are born with a great capacity to learn to do things the way big people do. They observe and attempt to copy what they see. Their prime interest is learning and doing things just like their parents do them. All too often, however, parents discourage their kids with the model they present.
Tyler sees his dad sweeping the garage. He grabs a bit broom and starts moving dirt around, imitating his father. Inside, Tyler is thinking, I feel big. I am learning how to use the broom. I hope Dad notices.
Dad notices all right. He notices all the spots the little tyke is missing, rather than appreciating the learning that is taking place. “Tyler!” he says, his voice dripping with disapproval. “Look at the mess you’re making! Please go play and let me finish this.”
If Dad pulls this once in a while (we all do), Tyler’s self-concept will come out of it unscathed, but habitual discouragement will lead to a poor self-concept in the child. He’ll stop trying to imitate responsible “adult” behaviour because he sees himself as incapable.
Parents WHO habitually concentrate on the tip result instead of on the educational happening land up with youngsters WHO have a negative self-concept concerning their skills. Then parents wonder why their kids never want to help around the house.
“But what about quality control?” you may be asking. “When do we start worrying about the end results? We don’t want unswept dust piles in the garage forever, do we?” The quality of learning improves with practice, encouragement, and modelling. Say, “Gee, Tyler, you actually skills to comb. Isn’t it fun to do a good job? Watch how I use the broom and get all of the dirt.” This gives the child a good model to copy. Like Dad, Tyler wants to do a good job and feel good about it too.
When children are small, we can teach them a great combination: getting the job done, fun, and me. We make sure that getting the job done is fun. We model that. We never pass judgment on the work of children when they are trying to learn. Rather, we say such things as:
- “I will see that you simply square measure operating onerous to find out to try and do division. Let Maine recognize if you’d like some facilitate.”
- “I see that you simply square measure learning to create the bed rather like mother.”
When Foster’s children were small and he did the dishes with them, he encouraged them to imagine the unhappiness of the germs on the dishes as they rinsed them off before putting them into the dishwasher. “What’s going on here?” the germs would scream. “What’s that big rag doing? It’s wiping me off the plate. Arrrrgghh!” Then, as the germs went down the garbage disposal, they continued their dialogue: “What’s this big round room? What’s going on in here? Hey, guys, it’s starting to spin. We’re all going to get killed! Arrrgghh!” When his children were high school age, they were still imagining the germs screaming and dying.
It would have been easy to come down on them when they were little for missing a spot here and there, but that would have spoiled the fun. As our children grow up, we remove ourselves from the triad, and they are left with the job and fun. Then we are elsewhere, having fun doing our own jobs.