Are We Setting Our Kids Up to Fail?

I wrote recently about the top 5 ways to persuade kids to do what you need them to do* in which I suggested we audit, check ourselves first.

Whilst there will be times when conflict arises that will have little to do with you, we can often set ourselves, and our kids, up to fail. By this I mean we set expectations or requests that strain what we want to achieve which becomes a source of conflict.

A friend recently shared an exercise he’d recently used when teaching English in a school in Zambia. He wanted to highlight to the students how much information we delete when we explain something. How much we assume we’ve communicated or believe to be known or understood.

He began by asking them to imagine that an alien had arrived in the school. In small groups the students had to write instructions to explain to this alien how to put on a shoe. My friend then assumed the role of the alien. All he had to do was to follow the instructions each group read out.

He’d be told to “Put the shoe on”. So he put the shoe on top of his foot. They changed the instruction: “Undo the laces”. So he unthreaded all the laces. “Put the shoe on the left foot”. But not knowing which was right from left, it had to be explained in a different way,”Choose one foot, curl the toes slightly, and slip the toes into the space above the laces and  push the foot forward until the heel can sit inside the shoe.”. He wanted the students to notice that sometimes it us who need to adjust our communication rather become frustrated that our instructions aren’t followed.

Bringing this back to my opening point, I’m inviting you to consider that there is a benefit of reviewing what you assume your child knows, perhaps they don’t and we need to check in with them to see whether they understand what you are expecting from them.

* Click here to read 5 Top Tips to Persuade Kids to do What You Want 

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