Tackling Tedious Tasks
by Cynthia Z. Hansen, M.Ed., ET/P
Tasks that seem mundane to adults may feel trivial or unnecessary to a fast thinking, deeply pondering child. When added to the common gifted attributes of intense emotions; sensory hyper-awareness; the ache to be in constant motion, a parent's expectation to complete "unimportant tasks" may seem trivial to their progeny. At any given time, one's motivation is influenced by setting, environmental factors, social context, daily exhaustion, stress, energy levels, as well as the expectations from within and from others. To help your child tackle tedious tasks, start by imagining what the desired outcome will look like. Do you want your pre-adolescent to automatically remember it is Trash Night, smiling as he skips from can to can and whistling as he takes the trash to the curb? Or will you be content that she stopped what she was doing after only one reminder and groans as she begrudgingly tackles the task? What is a reasonable first step? What is realistic for your family? Consider when a task needs a bit of scaffolding: intermediate steps to independence. If your little one is reluctant to brush her teeth or wash his face, make a family game of it. When everyone is making faces with soap beards and foaming mouths, it is hard to hate the task. Create a habit of fun, and the child will be less reluctant, with time, to complete the task alone. Does it feel like you remind your child about a task and later they have no recollection of the discussion? This is often more an issue of attention than avoidance of a task. Try having her face you, or stand up as you describe the chore; have him repeat what you said in his own words - or perhaps have her guess why the job is important. The more active a child is in a conversation, the more they will remember and be able to follow through (or accept the consequences). New habits take time to develop. Before abandoning an idea, be sure to discuss why it is not working and potential tweaks for success with your evolving child. Developing motivation for "dull" tasks (or homework) is a parenting adventure! So trust yourself, laugh with what fails, embrace what works, and enjoy learning about yourself and your family.
Ms. Cynthia Hansen, M.Ed., ET/P is an Educational Therapist specializing in the unique learning needs of gifted and high potential children. In her private practice, Ms. Hansen mentors students of all abilities who need specific, systematic support with sustained focus, organization, and study strategies. She received her Masters of Education and three Teaching Certificates from UCLA and her post-masters certificate in Gifted and Talented Education from UCSB. Ms. Hansen presents workshops on Twice-Exceptional Education, Gifted and Talented Intensities, Executive Functions, and Time Management Skills.