Q: My kids are glad to help out around the house, but they get discouraged if they see me turning around and kind of “re-doing” what they did because it wasn’t good or thorough enough. So what’s the answer? Is it better to praise my kids for what they were able to do rather than make them feel bad because they didn’t do it exactly right?
A: Hi, Leah. Thanks for the question!
The bottom line: don’t make the mistake of re-doing their work. If you signal to your kids that their work wasn’t good enough, they’ll quickly grow discouraged and as a result they won’t bother to learn how to do the task properly and will rely on you to get it done.
First, try to give them tasks that are within their capability—and also things that won’t irk you if they’re not done perfectly. If you want something done a certain way, do it yourself. If you’re a stickler for crisply folded laundry, for example, you’d be better off taking on the folding yourself and assigning the kids something you’re less fussy about.
Next, establish your expectations by showing them how to do the task to your standard. Have them practice what you’re teaching them, and take the opportunity to make suggestions or corrections at that time.
Once they take on the task themselves, though, step back and zip your lip. Try to be as supportive and encouraging as possible, even if it’s not done precisely to your expectations. Thank them for their effort rather than insincerely praising them for a less-than-successful execution, and then practice the task again together and offer helpful hints that will result in more success. Eventually they will learn proficiency, and it will become part of their routine.