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How To Help Your Child Learn How To Iron-Part 1
Motivate Your Child by Thinking Like a Child
Every child needs life skills.
In their excitement to become independent by leaving home to discover what the big wide world has to offer, they also discover that there is no one to cook, clean, wash and iron their clothes. There’s also the trash, car maintenance, making their money stretch until the next payday, finding a place to live and choosing the best roommates.
Some things your child needs to learn on the jump, other things can be learned at home at a young age with the help of mom and dad.
This is about helping your child learn how to iron.
Unless they aspire to be street kids or fall on their well-heeled feet and get a big job with a huge salary as soon as they leave home and can afford a personal iron, they need to know how to iron to keep their clothes looking good.
The most important criteria in this exercise are both YOUR ATTITUDE towards ironing and YOUR ABILITY to teach them how to iron.
YOUR ATTITUDE If you hate ironing and always grumble about it, don’t worry. It won’t work. You can’t teach someone a skill if you hate doing it yourself.
YOUR OPPORTUNITY TO TEACH. If you are impatient and grumpy, again don’t bother. You can’t teach if you can’t inspire.
I assume you have both an interest and a desire to help your child.
So let’s go.
What you will need
1. It is always useful to have the ability to remember what it was like when you were a child.
2. Patience. A lot of it. Remember when you were a kid and learned how to ride a bike. How many times did you fall off before you finally mastered the skill and took off on your own?
3. A sense of humor. It goes a long way to diffusing a tense moment. Again, think back to when you were a kid. Learning a skill like tying your shoelaces seemed to escape your grasp. My mother laughed when I tied both my shoes together and I couldn’t move. Her laughter reassured me that it was a mistake that really didn’t matter.
4. The ability to correct one’s mistakes in a positive way. This is difficult because parents are so used to constantly correcting their child to make them do better; and are not always aware that their manner is rude, abrupt, and unkind.
For example. A local shopkeeper had his two pre-teen children in his shop for the afternoon. All I heard while I was there was, “…No, you can’t touch that. No, don’t do that. This is how I want you to stack those items.” Is that how you want to be spoken to? I don’t think so. So keep such talk out of learning.
A better way to approach it is to let your child know that what they did was not right. Yes, they need to know if they did something wrong. But tell them that with practice, you know they’ll be better at it than you. That is to correct, reassure and inspire them with just a few words.
5. Don’t expect too much too soon. Ironing is not rocket science. Your child will not fail in life if they do not master the ironing skills of a professional valet or butler or master tailor. You are teaching them a skill that will help them conquer the domestic demands of their life. That’s all they need.
What is the right age to teach your child how to iron? Between the ages of 8 and 10. I learned to iron when I was 8 years old.
There is a good reason to start so early. The most important thing is your child is still in love with you. This is the “pre-hormone raging” era where you are still up there with God in their eyes. They still haven’t come up with a plan to thwart your parental authority, become grumpy, withdrawn and want to be anywhere, as long as it’s not with you!
This is the age where your child still likes to do things with you. Going out with mom and dad is still part of their life.
Read anyone’s memoir and their fondest childhood memories are of that age, being taught something by a loving parent. Whether it was learning to fish or learning to sew, their pure joy was hanging out with mom or dad and doing grown-up things with them.
Ironing is a ‘grown-up thing’.
The best introduction is to get your child to help with the laundry. Not alone, but together, with you. Make this an opportunity to gossip and have some fun together. This benefits both of you. Folding clothing can be turned into a social occasion for you and your child.
The next step is to introduce them to ironing. Again, with you. Remember, this goes hand in hand with mom and dad. Starting with tissues is always safe. And this way the whole family finally gets iron sheets! Cloth napkins are also safe, as are tea towels, pillows, anything straight that can be ironed quickly. Speed in finishing is the criteria here. Nothing too difficult to scare them.
And get them their own mini board and mini iron. So they can iron right next to you.
I hear you laughing and laughing. With contempt, no less.
Why not? You have spent a billion dollars on their toys so far. You also spent how much (?) money on various useless items for them. Why not spend some money on tools for a skill they take into adulthood; that helps you with some of your tasks; and allows you to spend some quality time with your child doing something together?
This is a new approach, isn’t it?
But think about it. Go back to when you were a kid. At age 8 or 10, objects are still too big. A mini board, a mini iron, is just the right size for a child. Sort of like Goldilocks finding the right bed to sleep in. And it belongs to them. Possession of the tools can lead to possession of the skill.
Helping your child learn how to iron is more than just pulling out the ironing board, handing them the iron, setting them up on a stool and telling them to “go to it”. It’s about motivating them and inspiring them to get started.
And that’s all about you.
This is how many men and women learn to do things. At the knees of their loving parents.
So go to it. It is in your child’s best interest to succeed.
This is the first in a series of articles on Helping Your Child Learn How to Iron.
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