When dealing with children, I think that, as adults, we have a tendency to try to be in charge, and get things done as quickly as possible. But when we are dealing with children, we need to remember a few things.
One, they learn by example. Young children take in who we are and what we do, and imitate it. Therefore, they need something to imitate so that they can learn! If we are constantly running to do something “very quickly” by ourselves, the child is missing a valuable opportunity to learn from what we are doing. They really need the chance to tag along, even if it makes our chore last an extra minute or three.
Another, children do not think in a linear fashion. Things that seem logical to us, do not seem logical to them. Therefore, they will do things that don’t make sense to us – not because they are trying to do something that doesn’t make sense, but because to them, the correlation is less strong. If a child is helping with a project and walks away, it doesn’t always mean that they don’t want to help. It may mean that they don’t realize that the project will no longer be there when they get back because you will continue to work without them. They may need to be reminded so that they do not become frustrated when they return.
Last, children really need an example of positivity in their lives. They really need to be able to look to adults to be “yes” people. They NEED us to deliver yeses to them, when they are looking for something. This doesn’t mean that they need to always get their way. What it means is that they need to hear that there is a way to meet all of our needs. When a child comes to us with a request or is having a problem, it is our job (as the adult worthy of imitation) to set an example of how to find a solution. A lot of the time, I see parents or caregivers take on the authoritarian approach, and attempt to tell the child what to do. This leaves the child with 2 options – obey, or disobey. Neither of these is really a good solution as they leave the child no room for growth. Discussing the situation with the child, and helping them to find a solution, is a better alternative. This approach involves the child, teaches him or her how to find a solution when they have an issue, and leaves them room to cooperate without feeling bullied by an authority figure. It is a bit more work, in the beginning, to think of how to accommodate the children in our work, or how to tell them yes to playing in the sand when it is time to go to bed, but with a bit of practice, we learn to build in a few more minutes to our task (and the children learn the processes and get faster), and we learn how to tell the child that, yes, we can play in the sand some more – tomorrow.