Do you find yourself getting frustrated when your child doesn't finish their work on time? Regardless of how many kind words or shouting matches go by, you feel they are not able to meet your expectations. For example, at the beginning of the week, you remind them to complete the homework before playing with friends after school. But yet again, you see no changes in their behaviour. What can you do?
This simple framework from Stephen Covey's book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, can be a great way to delegate tasks effectively - not just in your professional life but also when dealing with your children.
Firstly, it is important to live a life of integrity. Children often follow their parents' footsteps, and therefore you must role-model responsible and reliable behaviour for your child. Commitments are important to keep, and when your child sees you following through on your commitments to yourself and others, they will also understand the value of integrity.
Next, remember that your advice is coming from a place of goodwill but may not always be conveyed in that way to your child. Thus, to establish Win-Win agreements with them - that is, where both parties are ultimately happier - you need to develop a strong relationship with them. Relationships are the foundations of Win-Win agreements, and you need to consider whether you have an overflowing emotional bank account or are down to the last few emotional points!
Emotional Bank Accounts
To explain this analogy further, your relationships with someone can be understood through the example of bank accounts. The more love, trust, and mutual respect there is, the better the account and thus the better the relationship. This means every time you show up to support your child or give them compliments or take care of little tasks for them, you gain a few points. However, every time you get angry or snap at them, the hurt they feel results in losing a few points.
Now, once you have a foundation of trust, love and respect for each other, you can begin to set "agreements". Just like at work, when you delegate tasks to your subordinate, you list out the terms of this agreement. Similarly, clearly communicate the terms of your agreement and make sure both you and your child agree on the following five dimensions:
5 Factors to Consider in Win-Win Agreements
1. Desired Results
Clearly communicate with your child the following points: What should be done? By when? Remember, you are agreeing on the "WHAT" of the task, not the "HOW". This means that you do not need to explain exactly how your child should study for primary school, complete their English homework, fold their clothes or do the dishes. By giving them the space to do things their way, you demonstrate that you trust their judgement and are willing to give them the responsibility and, therefore, the accountability for their work.
Next, specify any parameters within which the results are to be accomplished. For example, when your child sits down to do their math homework, they mustn't just copy answers off their friend or the internet. Their study should instead be independent work. Remember to clarify if something is off-limits or unacceptable so that they don't have to suffer the disappointment of putting in work in the wrong way and have it not meet your expectations later.
In addition, identify which resources are available to your child in order to complete a given task. For example, if the idea is to do secondary 2 homework on time, you can identify textbooks, online tools, perhaps a private home tutor who can help, as well as snacks, your own assistance, or the ability to organise group study sessions to complete the work. This will help them realise that they are supported in this journey and that you both are working on the same team!
To motivate your child to put in real effort for this task, set the standard of performance that will be used to evaluate them. Also, arrange specific times at which evaluation will take place. Just like students receive clear rubrics that explain how to get an A, discuss the standards of performance in a friendly way with your child, so they know what is expected of them. In the example given by Covey in his book, he narrates the story of delegating the task of keeping the lawn "green and clean" to his son.
In this example, they discuss what "green and clean" means - Covey himself cleans an area of the yard by removing all rubbish and watering the grass to demonstrate the expected standard of performance. Similarly, work with your child in the first session while they work at their new task to help them understand how to do it well.
Then, remember to not break their trust by checking in at random moments. Make sure you only evaluate their performance at the time previously agreed upon.
Gently communicate the rewards of performing well on this task- perhaps some pocket money or a treat at their favourite restaurant. Moreover, also make sure to communicate the negative consequences of not following through. These should not be harsh punishments but rather gentle ways in which you can guide your child to be accountable for their work. For example, if the task is not completed, you can have one-on-one sessions where you walk through the task together. More supervision or training can be a kind way in which you can support your child if they fail to meet the agreement.
However, as Covey explains, trust is the best motivator. If you find your child struggling with a given task, you can always offer help and love during the evaluation. This does not mean spoon-feeding or allowing them to forget their commitment, but instead is a way for you to show you are supporting them by enabling them to meet that commitment themselves.
A great challenge parents face is to let their children develop into their own independent selves. This can be hard because of their need to be protective and ensure their child lives their best possible life. However, it is important to enable them with the right guidance and tools, so they can continue to grow and be able to supervise and manage themselves. Such agreements are a great way to help them to develop their ability to be self-sufficient.
If your child is struggling academically, and you wish to help them take charge of their learning process, consider getting a private home tutor who can serve as a great resource for mentoring your child in their studies as well as their personal life. Click the button below to request a private home tutor now: