I lived by that virtue, “Inspect What You Expect”, a bit more closely when the kids were little. If I asked them to take a bath for example, I would “inspect” that it was done “as expected”. (Meaning there was some evidence of soap being utilized.)
As they’ve gotten older I’ve been letting this virtue slide a bit. When I ask my 5th grader if his homework is done and he says “Yeah”, it’s easiest to just take him at his word and trust that it’s done. No inspection. I’m finding however that it might not necessarily be completed the way I (or his teacher) would expect. Some inspection is still required.
This is where parenting gets tricky for me. I want to do what’s best for my kids in the long haul; encouraging responsibility and independence. I won’t rescue them leaving from leaving their homework at home and getting a bad grade if it means they’ll be more likely to remember it next time. (Different story with the kid who neither knows or cares that he left the homework folder at home; something beyond natural consequences are required there.) So lessening my level of “inspection” is tricky for me sometimes. My bent is to just trust the “yeah, homework is done”without inspection, because it saves me the trouble of the five minutes it takes me to look over it, and encourage any corrections or completions. I think often when I pass over the inspection step, it’s mostly for my benefit and not his, but I justify my lack of inspection by telling myself I’m “encouraging independence.” (Ouch. Sometimes self-reflection hurts.)
Anyway – I am reintroducing this “inspect what you expect” mantra back into my mothering psyche. I started tonight by coaching my 7 year old thru correctly putting shampoo and conditioner in her hair. I realized she hasn’t been using enough conditioner, nor leaving the conditioner in long enough, to do any good. Hopefully now that we’ve corrected that, we’ll both be spared some frustration at hair-brushing time.
Next I watched Dylan clean his bathroom. That inspection went great; he did a good job. Still a “win” because I got to praise him for a job well done…and he probably did a better job than usual because I was watching. Safe bet that he up’ed his bathroom cleaning game anyway with mom’s eyes on him!
In simple areas like “Clean up your room”, or “Put away your laundry” they do better when I say “I will come check it in 10 minutes.” That is a simple lesson that I had previously learned…but have somehow gotten away from recently.
“Inspect What You Expect.” I gotta do it.