Before becoming a mother, I would often contemplate the “dropped stitch” philosophy. I would hear older women talk about it and I had a cursory understanding of it, but how do you teach this principle to a young child without nagging?
From toddlerhood, I’ve been training my little girl to be observant, to see and hear, to watch and do. Granted, these lessons are typically mommy narrating what mommy is doing, but she has been listening and as she becomes older and more independent, these lessons are taking hold.
It all starts with mommy being conscientious, purposeful and consistent in everyday duties: Making the bed, placing folded pajamas in the drawer, having daily worship, prayer and breakfast, not skipping any one of these important steps. We don’t leave our soiled clothes on the floor or dirty dishes in the sink. We don’t leave our personal grooming necessities out on the counter or kitchen items out of place. Toys are put away as we finish with them, not at the end of the day. We have even employed methods of tidiness to our closets, cupboards and drawers.
As parents, we should be teaching our children to be observant of that which needs to be done; to be willing to do the small duties quickly and completely and, when they are older, without being asked.
I’ve been mocked as a mom who is going to make my child obsessive compulsive. I doubt that will happen, though. When too many jobs pile up all at once, I have learned to ask my husband and daughter to help and all goes well.
I know the lessons are making an impact. From time to time, Lucy will voluntarily do a chore for me such as mopping the kitchen floor with her toy mop. I did need to help her understand that the counters, table and chairs did not need mopping – just a wiping with a damp cloth – but, she saw a job that needed to be done and she willingly, cheerfully and voluntarily took it on!
And so, the lessons will continue as I narrate what I’m doing and asking her open-ended questions:
· What do you see?
· What do you hear?
· Have you forgotten something?
· Have you left something behind? Undone? Out of place?
· Is there something missing?
· Do you see anything amiss?
· What should we do?
· How could we be of help to ___________?
© 2010, C. Gillan Byrne
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1White, E. G. (1954/2002). Methods of Teaching (Chapter Title). In E. G. White Publications (Eds.), Child Guidance (p. 31). Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association.