Roles to play
We all have different roles to play. As adults, we may be a Mother, Father, Worker, Gardener, Cook and/or student. For each of these roles, we have different tasks that need to be completed in order to fulfill our role.
Children also have roles, which usually include being a son or daughter, sibling or other family member. They may also be a student, socialiser, person who plays and sleeper.
Each role we play has defined attributes and expectations associated with the role (Bond & Bond). These may be personal expectations, or societal expectations. For example, a child may be expected by others to complete the school work, and a personal expectation may be that the work is completed to a high standard. Other expectations of roles, may include keeping their room clean, getting ready for school, working hard at school, doing their homework and other tasks, eating and sleeping.
Young children are often exploring their own expectations of their roles, and are still heavily influenced by societal expectations. So why do some children struggle to meet these expectations and what happens when a child has difficulty meeting these expectations?
Difficulties meeting expectations
Children may have difficulty meeting an expectation if the expectation of them is too high. It is important to consider tasks which are age appropriate and reasonable for their level of experience.
If the task is appropriate for the child’s age, but they struggle to do it, there may be an incongruence between their skill level, their ability to attend, problem solve or execute the task. It is often difficult to ascertain why the child is having particular difficulties. However, if your child is having difficulty in completing a range of tasks an assessment with an Occupational Therapist or Child Psychologist may be warranted.
Sensory processing difficulties, difficulties planning and organising, anxiety and other issues may be impacting a child’s ability to complete tasks which are expected of them.
What can YOU do about it
Consider whether the tasks you are asking your child to do is age appropriate. Consider whether they have completed the task before. Consider providing assistance with the task much as breaking the task the down to smaller, simpler steps.
For example, when asking a child to tidy their room, break the task down by giving specific instructions for the child, and providing only one instruction at a time. For example, 1. pick up your doll. 2. make your bed. 3. pick up your dirty clothes. 4. put your dirty clothes in the washing machine. It is important not to overload a child who is struggling, so only provide one instruction at a time. Remember to reward your child along the way.
By breaking tasks down to simpler steps, you are reducing the amount of problem solving required to complete activities. This will help your child to complete the task, and often can lead to less frustration on your part.
If you believe your child has anxiety, sensory processing difficulties or you would like more strategies to help your child meet the expectations of their roles, consider booking in to see our Occupational Therapist or one of our Child Psychologists, at The Psych Professionals.