How To Help Your Child Understand What You Want Him To Do

A friend showed me this list last Sunday. I wish I’d had a clear list like this when we were raising our little guys. It could have made things so much easier!

Send a child off with a clear understanding of what you expect of him! Is this a Level 1 task where you want her to just do exactly what you say, or is it a Level  3 task? Do you want her to rearrange the kitchen cupboard exactly as you have specified, or are you asking her to think about the best way to organize it, explain her ideas to you, and see if you agree with her before she finishes the job?

Self-consciously thinking about delegating tasks at different levels can help us move our children toward more and more independence and responsibility. We can help them learn to follow clear directions, but we should also help them learn to take initiative, research carefully, think creatively, and take full responsibility for a project.

Read through this list , written by the former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing Co., and see if it might help you as you direct your children throughout the day!

  • Level 1: Do exactly what I have asked you to do. Don’t deviate from my instructions. I have already researched the options and determined what I want you to do.
  • Level 2: Research the topic and report back. We will discuss it, and then I will make the decision and tell you what I want you to do.
  • Level 3: Research the topic, outline the options, and make a recommendation. Give me the pros and cons of each option, but tell me what you think we should do. If I agree with your decision, I will authorize you to move forward.
  • Level 4: Make a decision and then tell me what you did. I trust you to do the research, make the best decision you can, and then keep me in the loop. I don’t want to be surprised by someone else.
  • Level 5: Make whatever decision you think is best. No need to report back. I trust you completely. I know you will follow through. You have my full support.
Excerpt from “The Five Levels of Delegation” at
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