Smaller steps or bites enable us to keep focused and make progress. Slow progress is much better than no progress”
You have probably heard the old joke; “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!”
Sometimes we need to help our children take this approach to the tasks that they face, from school work to cleaning their room or social challenges. This often leads to a sense of feeling overwhelmed, so this is where the process comes into play, taking the tasks and breaking it down into bite size pieces.
“Tidy your room”, could appear to be just too hard. Maybe it hasn’t been tidied for quite some time and you don’t know where to begin. So rather than tidy your room, it may be simply to gather all the books together and put them away, gather all the clothes together and make three piles; one for dirty washing, one for folding and one for hanging and then work on each pile, one at a time.
It can also be a helpful practise to look at the homework tasks with your child and break them up into daily, manageable chunks, with little inbuilt rewards along the way.
This process can also be used in tackling fears or challenges, like sleeping away from home, speaking in public or moving to a new place. Look at the challenge and work out small steps along the way to practise and build in confidence before stepping up to the really difficult challenge. Along the way you can build small rewards (playing with the dog, reading your favourite book, listening to music, going for a run – not food or something from the shop)
For children who struggle with abstract ideas it can be helpful to create a visual model for the steps, like a ladder or stepping stones, with each small step labelled and with the reward in the space between each step.
By building these strategies we can begin to equip them to self-manage their own motivation and planning, immensely valuable life skills.
If you see me stressing or feeling overwhelmed gently remind me to take, one bite at a time.
Gill Van Der Ende