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July 8, 2012


Independence is knowing when "good" is good enough 

What it is


To accurately assess the quality of one's efforts.

Why it's Important

Independence requires that we establish our own standards of performance and conduct and then have the ability to objectively determine how well we’ve hit our mark. 

The Problem

Human nature makes us lazy; we’re biologically wired to conserve energy. Bothersome chores get done poorly.

  • Vague Standards
  • Meaningless Task

Ugh!  It gets mighty frustrating having to point out the missed details in a sloppy chore, over and over again.

 The Tip

Delegate w/o Details

Allow your kids to practice setting standards and assessing efforts without assuming they need your help. 

“Never tell people how to do things.  Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”    General Patton

Step 1

Identify 3ish frequent chores with 5 steps.  Example: Clearing the table after dinner.

  1. Clear everything from table
  2. Thoroughly wipe table
  3. Thoroughly wipe chairs
  4. Thoroughly sweep under table and chairs
  5. Replace chairs

Step 2


Ask your kids to accept responsibility for a chore.  Offer chores by name w/o details, i.e., Clear Dinner Table, Take Garbage Out, Tidy Family Room . . .

Step 3


With confidence in your child, ask her if she has a question about what’s expected.  Answer only the questions asked.

Step 4

Hold your tongue

The first night you may find crumbs on the floor.  Yippie!  It’s your opportunity to help him understand how to establish standards and self-evaluate.  Point out the crumbs and ask for them to be swept.

Step 5

Turn it over

After a few days, stop pointing to specific problems.   By this time, you’re likely to have encountered issues with everything.  Now, you’ll just say, “The dinner table isn’t done, please finish the job.”

  Expect Push Back and Back Slides Push Back / Back Slide!

Push Back!  Expect some.  With your parenting promise in mind, respond with confidence in your child and reassure her that you know she can do the job without your help. 

Back Slide! Expect some.  After a while he’ll test standards again.  Tell him you’ll only check once every 20 minutes and to be sure the task is complete before asking your agreement.  He can’t move on to another activity because he’s expected to finish here first.


Step 6

Simple Thank You   

Thank your child without fanfare.  She's done what is expected and that’s great, but not an “extra.”

 Your time is valuable Why every 20 minutes? 

You, the parent, also have things to do.  Stopping to check his work frequently is an unwelcome interruption. 

Treat him like an adult

and he will learn how to become an adult.


Chores Done Well

Once past the learning curve on the simple stuff, more complicated chores get done with much less hand-holding.

Nag Free

Focused on your parenting promises, you can communicate with respect and love.


Answering questions vs. telling how demonstrates belief in their abilities.


Leadership demonstrated / independence practiced

Related Articles: Consistency in Boundaries, Truth Evolves

Related Tip of the Week:  Lunch Note,

How do you learn when enough is enough?


Chime in >> What do you think?

  Email Lorraine with your question


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