14 strategies parents need to know
The idea of setting aside time for training children is not as obvious as it may sound. Too often, adults expect children to accomplish tasks for which there has not been adequate training. This is more typical in homes than in schools. Parents may expect children to clean their rooms, without having ever shown them how. Children go into their messy rooms and feel overwhelmed. It would help if a parent said, "Put your clean clothes in your drawers and your dirty clothes in the hamper and then I'll let you know what is next." Next they could put their toys on the shelves or in toy boxes. To make it more fun, suggest all toys with wheels first, then toys with body parts, then toys that are animals, etc. Before long, the child has internalized the idea and learns what is expected.
There is often a great communication gap. When Dad tells his daughter to clean up the garage, each may have very different ideas of what this means. Taking time for specific training can eliminate the misunderstanding. Taking time for training means being specific about your terms and expectations.
Even when you do provide training, remember that children will seldom do things as well as you would like. Improvement is a life-long process. Remember too, the things you want them to do may not be a high priority for them until they become adults with children of their own to guide. We all do better at things that have a high priority in our lives. Even though cleanliness and manners may not be important for children, they still need to learn these qualities. Adults do, however, need to remember that kids are kids.
A Story from Jane: A father of eight children complained that his son slammed the door every time he left the house. He admitted he was ready to slap the boy. The group suggested that he take his son over to the door and show him how to close it carefully—run through it a couple of times, actually train him how to close a door without slamming it. He came back to class the next week amazed—"It worked!"
This adorable child had a habit of drawing on walls with crayons and pens! Mom and Dad tried everything, from time-outs to yelling, but nothing worked. Then Dad realized it might be a simple training problem, so they began asking her the same question every day, "What do we all write on?" and together they replied, "Paper!" Soon she learned that drawings are ONLY to be done on paper, NOT on walls.