Motivate Your Child By Thinking Like A Child
Every child needs life skills.
In their excitement to become independent by leaving home to discover what the big wide world has to offer, they also discover there’s no one to cook, clean, do the laundry and iron their clothes. There’s also the garbage, car maintenance, making their money stretch until next payday, finding a place to live and selecting the best flatmates.
Some things your child has to learn on the hop, other things can be learned at home at a young age with mum and dad’s help.
This is about helping your child learn how to iron.
Unless they aspire to be street kids or fall on their well-heeled feet and land an important job with a huge salary as soon as they leave home and can afford a personal ironer, they need to know how to iron so their clothes look good.
The most important criteria in this exercise are both YOUR ATTITUDE to ironing and YOUR ABILITY to teach them how to iron.
YOUR ATTITUDE. If you hate ironing and always grumble about it, don’t bother. It won’t work. You can’t teach a skill to someone if you hate doing it yourself.
YOUR ABILITY TO TEACH. If you’re impatient and grouchy, again don’t bother. You can’t teach if you can’t inspire.
I’m assuming that you have both an interest in and a desire to help your child.
So let’s go.
What you’ll need.
1. It’s always helpful to have the ability to remember what it was like when you were a child.
2. Patience. Lots of it. Remember back to when you were a kid and learning how to ride your bike. How many times did you fall off before you finally mastered the skill and took off by yourself?
3. A sense of humour. It goes a long way towards diffusing a tense moment. Again, remember back to when you were a child. Learning a skill like tying your shoelaces seemed to escape your grasp. My mother laughed when I tied both my shoes together and I couldn’t move. Her laughter reassured me this was a mistake that really didn’t matter.
4. The skill to correct their mistakes in a positive way. This is a tough one because parents are so used to constantly correcting their child so they do better; and aren’t always aware their manner is gruff, abrupt and unfriendly.
For example. A local shopkeeper had their two pre-teen children in their shop for the afternoon. All I heard while I was there was, “…No, you can’t touch that. No, don’t do that. That’s not the way I want you to stack those items.” Is this the way you want to be talked to? I don’t think so. So keep that sort of talk out of the learning experience.
A better way to approach it is to let your child know that what they’ve done isn’t right. Yes, they need to know if they’ve done something incorrectly. But tell them that with practice, you know they’ll be better at it than you. That’s correcting, reassuring and inspiring them with just a few words.
5. Don’t expect too much too soon. Ironing isn’t rocket science. Your child won’t fail at life if they don’t master the ironing skills of a professional valet or butler or master tailor. You’re teaching them a skill that will help them conquer the domestic requirements of their life. That’s all they need.
What’s the right age to teach your child how to iron? Between the ages of 8 and 10. I learned to iron when I was 8.
There’s a good reason to start that early. The most important one being your child is still in love with you. This is the ‘pre-hormone raging’ era where you’re still up there with God in their eyes. They haven’t yet devised a plan to obstruct your parental authority, become sullen, withdrawn and want to be anywhere, so long as it’s not with you!
This is the age where your child still likes to do things with you. Hanging out with mum and dad is still a part of their life.
Read anyone’s memoir and their fondest childhood memories are from that age, being taught something by a loving parent. Whether it was learning to fish or learning to sew, their sheer joy was in hanging out with mum or dad and doing grown up things with them.
Ironing is a ‘grown up thing’.
The best introduction is to get your child to help with the laundry. Not on their own, but together, with you. Make this a chance to gossip and have a little bit of fun together. This benefits both of you. Folding laundry can be turned into a social occasion for you and your child.
The next step is to introduce them to ironing. Again, with you. Remember, this is hanging out with mum and dad stuff. Starting with handkerchiefs is always safe. And this way the whole family finally gets ironed handkerchiefs! Cloth napkins are also safe, as are tea towels, pillowcases, anything straight that can be ironed quickly. Speed in finishing is the criteria here. Nothing too hard to scare them off.
And get them their own mini board and mini iron. So they can iron right beside you.
I hear you laughing and harrumphing. With scorn, no less.
Why not? You’ve spent a gazillion dollars up to now on their toys. You’ve also spent how much (?) money on a variety of useless objects for them. Why not spend some money on tools for a skill they take into adulthood; that helps you with some of your chores; and allows you to spend some quality time with your child doing something together?
This is a new approach, isn’t it?
But think about it. Get back to when you were a child. At age 8 or 10, objects are still too big. A mini board, a mini iron, are just the right size for a child. Sort of like Goldilocks finding the right bed to sleep in. And it belongs to them. Ownership of the tools can lead to ownership of the skill.
Helping your child learn how to iron is more than just whipping out the ironing board, handing them the iron, standing them on a stool and telling them to ‘go to it’. It’s about motivating them and inspiring them to begin with.
And that’s all about you.
This is how many men and women learn to do things. At the knees of their loving parents.
So go to it. It’s in your child’s best interests to succeed.
This is the first in a series of articles about Helping Your Child Learn How To Iron.