Is That the Best You Can Do?

Is That the Best You Can Do?

I love the story about the college professor who received an essay from a student.  He returned the essay to the student with the simple written comment, “Is this the best you can do?”

The student re-wrote the essay and re-submitted it.  Again, the professor returned the essay with the comment, “Is this the best you can do?”

The student revised his work and submitted it for a third time.  Again, the professor asked, “Is this the best you can do?”

Totally exasperated, the student replied, “Yes, this is the best I can do!”

To which the professor responded, “Okay…now I’ll read it.”

It is a good idea to keep this story in mind when dealing with your preschooler.  Too often when young child is asked to complete a task, such as cleaning his room, and then announces the job is done, parents are too quick to criticize and point out the shortcomings in the child’s performance.  And this may involve an under-estimation of the child’s knowledge about the requirements of the task and an over-estimation of the child’s appreciation for the value of effort and conscientiousness in fulfilling those requirements. 
Consequently, focusing on the requirements instead of instilling a sense of personal responsibility does little to further the child’s education.

So the next time your little one fails to complete a task to your satisfaction, rather than pursuing a strategy that will likely result in a lot of anger and frustration for both of you, simply try asking him, “Is this the best you can do?”  You may be quite pleasantly surprised by what happens subsequently.

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