the involvement technique

i’ve read a lot of parenting books but i don’t normally put everything i read to practice. i still keep on reading because it doesn’t hurt to know how other people raise their own kids. sometimes i pick up one or two tricks that help an awful lot but most of the time everything else is just literature for publishing’s sake.

but there is one child rearing technique that i’ve come to know pretty well and one that i follow entirely by the book. it’s called the involvement technique and the whole point of it is to get your child involved with what you’re doing so you can continue to work while you get to take care of him at the same time.

if you count the number of hours your child is awake and active vis a vis the number of tasks you need to finish within the day, multiplied by two if you have two unbelievably active boy toddlers like us, soon enough you’ll realize there isn’t gonna be enough time to deal with everything. choosing between taking care of the kids and doing housework or job-work is not among our most preferred options. sometimes turo & i work alternately, he plays with the kids while i work, so later on i get to take care of the kids while he does his thing.

when the kids are in play mode, they can play contentedly on their own or with each other while you sneak away for a few minutes to sort the laundry or water the plants or dust the furniture. but this will only work if your child is in the right mood to get absorbed in play. otherwise they will require your full attention and participation in whatever it is they’re doing.

the involvement technique completely reverses this situation. by getting your child involved in part of your “adult” activities they bask in your attention while you get a headstart on your work. cleaning, washing, sorting, throwing trash and carrying stuff can be very exciting for small children. it gets even more exciting when there are tools involved, a plastic bowl, measuring cups, anything unbreakable that won’t be a choking hazard. turo even lets the kids play with real tools provided that he pays close attention to avoid accidents.

children love to help. it makes them feel responsible knowing that they have a share in the work. but an important part of this technique is praise. it’s not just about parents buying time and distracting their children so they can get some work done. in fact, chores done using this technique may take longer to finish and almost always end up with a mess. while killing two birds with one stone can be a benefit, you have to be mindful that you need to keep paying attention to your child during the entire process. guide him throughout the activity so the next time he can do things more independently. explain to your child how significant his contribution is to finishing the entire task. never fail to thank your child for his efforts and always tell him what a good job he’s been doing. this boosts a child’s confidence knowing that he was able to succeed in a “challenge” that was given to him.

the involvement technique is even more helpful for parents with more than one child. you can deal with jealousy by involving your older child as you attend to his younger sibling. and while we seldomly encounter bouts of jealousy between the two boys, i value the way this technique has started to instill a cloud of teamwork between them.

the involvement technique has been fairly effective in our case. it has provided us with opportunities to bond with our children and teach them life skills first hand. there are a host of other methods that we use, we just hadn’t gotten around to putting labels to them. but the important thing as parents is to be sensitive about a child’s needs and being flexible in ways that you attend to those needs. oftentimes you can just go with the flow, but on some occasions, you really have to push your luck.

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