I have found unexpected insight in the company of my newly adult children. Now that they have crossed over into my world, they occasionally share the thought life of their younger years and it has been intriguing! As a parent, you know what you tell your kids and what your expectations are, but who knows what’s going on inside those little heads?
Not long ago my daughter and I got to visiting about child training and she shared with me what dust mopping had taught her. Dust mopping? Seriously? She reminded me that when she was really little I trained her to dust mop the floor. I would demonstrate and then leave her to do it herself. Once she was done, I would inspect, find the dusty corners she had missed, show her the omission, teach her the proper technique again, and then expect her to continue until it was done correctly. Inspections continued until the task was mastered weeks later and then periodically after that.
It takes a lot of patience to train a kid the right way to do something. It would have been much quicker to do it myself or hire someone else to do it for our family. But we stuck with it, carefully training each new task, inspecting, and then expecting it to be done correctly.
Training children to pay attention to detail is crucial and is so much easier when they are young. Learning to do things well began with housework, but transferred to other areas of life. When my daughter was small, she learned to master cooking and cleaning. Between the ages of 10-15, she learned to master the violin – how to practice effectively, how to develop stage presence, etc. Around the age of 15, she learned to master speech and debate. After that she conquered upper level math and science and began prepping for standardized tests.
Here’s the funny thing. She told me that, all those years later, as she was carefully evaluating what she missed on her SAT practice runs at home, she saw the problem areas as dusty corners that she had missed. After the years of training her in attention to detail, it was natural to go back and figure out how to do it right, to fix the problem rather than sweep it under the rug.
Learning to pay attention to detail when dealing with the most basic things will transfer to other areas of life. Once you’ve become disciplined enough to master one thing, it then becomes habit to master other things.
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