For 17 years I have had a single stylist cut my hair; however, in an unforeseen turn of events, I found myself with my mother 2 hours from my hometown for three weeks. I missed my haircut appointment with my fantastic stylist, Lisa, and out of desperation I found a salon in Lubbock. I threw caution to the wind and had the longest haircut of my life.
I’m not sure what took AmberLee an hour and a half but I do believe she gave very special attention to every individual strand of hair. I sat in her chair, exhausted from hospital life, and enjoyed several cat naps. It was obvious that Attention to Detail Really Does Matter for AmberLee.
I’m not sure who first taught me the adage, “A stitch in time saves nine,” but the idiom could be a mantra for me. I would certainly have preferred AmberLee attend to the details (while I’m not sure my short hair required 90 minutes) than not. I think it’s valuable to teach a child that if you take the time to do something right at first, you won’t have to go back and do it again.
Not only does attention to detail save time in the long run, it communicates that you care enough to do your very best. While a child might not slow down to consider whether attention to detail has been given, adults in their future will certainly notice whether your child, “Crosses every t and dots every i”. Your child’s attention to detail will be obvious in the way he mows a lawn, fills out an application, and drives. If she marches in the high school marching band, plays on a sports team, paints, sings in a choir, tests for her black belt, or hopes to pass her End of Course Assessments, attention to detail will matter.
In light of a significant medical situation our family has walked through this summer, I might add that in some situations, attention to detail can make the difference between a life saved or lost. If your child intends to serve patients in the medical health field, pilot or captain large passenger vehicles, guard and protect the public or our military, or handle bio-hazard waste, to mention just a few examples, attention to detail is certainly more than a “matter of preference”.
Franklin and I learned long ago (I wish I could remember where we learned these first so that I could give proper credit) a couple of strategies for helping our children attend to the details of a given task.
Let’s say I asked Caden to clean his room and he returns with a hasty, “I’m done!” I might ask him, “Did you clean your room like I would have cleaned your room? ”
I realize that at his very best his room will not look like it would if I’d actually done the job, but we’ve cleaned his room together many, many times. He knows the attention to detail I would give and he, in his 8 year old ability, will return to his room and tidy up several other things thinking, “No, Mom would have taken care of this, that, and that over there.”
For tweens and teens preparing for adult employment we often offer a very simple, “Is that the best you’ve got?” or, depending on the child and the quality of the work, “That’s not good enough.” When this simple assessment is given, we’ve found that our children return to the task and review their work with a more critical eye. They find and correct lots of problems on their own, they begin to take more responsibility for the details of the task, and while it still might not be “exactly as mom and dad would have done it” it is “passable” and is an end product that we can all feel good about.
Do you have other strategies you’ve used to help your children take “a stitch in time to save nine?” Share by commenting above!
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