Note to Self: Give the Big Picture

I cause myself a lot of grief by assuming children understand the “big picture” when I ask for a chore to be done.

Case in point, today I say, “Ben, please sweep up the dining room.” At the time I asked, in addition to dirt, there were lunch scraps, silverware, crayons, paper and some play-dough toys under the table. When he was done, under the table were now just a few little scraps of lunch and paper, one cookie cutter–AND the broom, the dustpan, his hat, and the tape gun, which he was holding when asked to sweep. He was no where to be found.

To be honest, yes, there is some serious ADHD involved, if you believe in that type of thing. But once again, it was another daily crossroads where I have to decide–is this funny or infuriating?

My lesson for today (once again) is to remember to give the big picture in assigning work. I need to explain what it needs to look like in the end, as well as put a little follow-up in there: “Ben, I need the floor to have absolutely nothing on it when you are done with it, let’s look at it together when you are done.”

I need to explain the end, not just the means. Theoretically it will help him feel less like an exploited worker to understand the big picture, all the overpaid corporate gurus say so. Until I learn this, you can know one thing when at my house–whatever you’re looking for, it’s under the table.

2 replies
  1. Jen
    Jen says:

    Thanks for reminding me I learned something the other week ago from a “Super Why” episode- It was the Little Red Hen and we all learned that if we want help we need to tell why. It really worked when I tried it.
    I would stop after telling them to do something and rephrase to something like, “I have a lot to do before we can do this great activity we had planned and I could really use some help with the table. Could you please clear the plates?” Just by understanding my need they were more willing. I couldn’t believe it worked. I’ll have to try it again.

  2. Nancy
    Nancy says:

    the ‘big picture’ is always important…. and your idea of ‘let’s look at it together when you are done’ THAT is a haard one for mommies to learn and follow through with… we get sooo busy we forget the follow through… and praise at the end…
    you are a good mom Val..


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