I had some friends over a few days ago for the BBQ. Their kids (who were older than mine – 10 and up) kept coming up and saying, “Is there anything I can do to help?” I was blown away by their diligence in being helpful. I asked what were some of the things the parents do to create this outcome. She said that one of the things they say is, “We are in, ‘What’s next, Mommy?” mode.” It was a phrase I adopted for our family immediately.
Too often, our kids are working on something with you and then just get bored or feel like they are done and wander off. If you teach them to say, “What’s next, Mommy?” then you aren’t abandoned in the middle of the process. It’s amazing how much this simple phrase has helped keep our kids on task.
I use this time as a speed cleaning time. We are all working diligently. If they are doing it well, I try and make it short and concise. The goal is to have them go and complete simple tasks quickly and then learn to come back to me to ask what is next. I love the times where this is working well, and I have three kids coming back ready for direction. There is an energy to it.
Sometimes children can become overwhelmed when they see a big mess. They might look at the play room and not know where to start. When you are there directing, you can help them see how to break up big tasks into smaller pieces. They’ll come to you, and you say, “Go pick up the cars.” They go quick and return with, “What’s next, Mommy?” You can say, “Great job. Go straighten the papers.” Little by little, the bigger picture is being segmented and manageable for them. This translates when you are working together to pick-up or clean the whole house.
If they have a bad attitude, we use the phrase, “Try that again.” They are learning, and nothing happens overnight in parenting. With discipline, diligence and a few favorite phrases, we can help teach our kids to have a good attitude when helping within their home. Like my friend’s kids, you will begin to see t transfer outside of the home with a little teaching and encouragement.