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4 Phases (Part 2): I Do. You Help.

If you're human, you understand the importance of knowing where we are in a project, and there's no bigger project than raising our kids. So let's talk about what that looks like.

Note: I don't know the source of this idea with certainty. My old pastor made it the central message of his sermon one Sunday. My attempts to find the information online failed. If you come across a source, please message me with the link so I can cite it properly.

PHASE 2: "I do, you help."


  • 5ish to 8ish

Parent Focus:

  • Continue appropriate efforts from PHASE 1

  • Invite children regularly to help with things (I know it's harder!).

  • Always demonstrate before letting them do things.

  • Have patience: they're doing life for the first time!

  • Always do a safety briefing when you're doing something riskier than usual (e.g. reminder of playground rules, establish a rendezvous point if you get lost in a busy place, wear safety glasses, etc.)

  • Assign a couple of simple chores each week

Child Focus:

  • Watch and mimic.

  • Listen to and follow directions.

  • Ask questions when they're not sure.

What does it look like?

  • I'm baking brownies from a box. I may invite my 7-year-old to help me stir something. I may invite them to measure the wet ingredients. They will wait for me to check their work before moving on to the next step.

  • I ask my child to sweep the dining area. I notice them holding the broom kind of funny. I offer to show them how to hold the broom and then let them work it out from there. I remind them to ask me for help if they need me to hold the dust pan, but that's about it. Praise the work at the end and let them know how cool it is to see them learning something new.

  • I'm assembling a furniture piece. I pull my child over to show them how to use a screwdriver. I demonstrate once or twice how to do it and then let them take the screwdriver. If they need a little help, I'll put my hands over their hands and I'll slowly and repetitively do the motions they need to do, allowing them to put the actual muscle into the work. I praise them for their work and effort and thank them for letting me teach them.

  • My child was scooping the cat litter and the bag they were using to hold the waste had a rip they didn't see before starting. TAKE A BREATH: you're going to feel things. Be patient with them. Say, "It's okay, dude. No worries. We can clean that up together. What did you learn?" Finish off with, "I love you. Good job."

  • We get to the children's museum. Kids are running around everywhere! First thing we do is assure one another that we're going to stay where we can all see one another. "I won't be following 10 steps behind the whole time, but I will be watching and doing my own thing, too." I want to give them a sense of independence and confidence by doing this. Then I establish a meet-up place if we happen to lose each other in the crowd.

"I do. You watch," basically focuses on demonstrating how to do life. As your child grows in this relationship phase, you'll realize just how many rules and expectations life throws at us. You can only teach this shit by leading by example. I suck at this like 25% of the time, but you want your kid to know these things by kindergarten so behavior issues don't get in the way of their learning. The most powerful way to do this is by working on yourself every single day by being aware, honest, and responsive to your own personal challenges.

Kids remember the most unexpected things. During these, "I do. You watch," years, be the best version of yourself that you can be. Compartmentalize your work time, family time, and your "me time." You need all three to maintain balance in your life, so that you can be the best parent for your child.


Further reading:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, March 25). Early Brain Development and Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved November 12, 2022, from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, February 22). Positive parenting tips. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved November 12, 2022, from


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