A 5-year-old ability does not yield a 12-year-old result

Running a family isn’t all beer and skittles you know, sometimes there’s work to be done! The lawn needs to be mowed, clothes washed and ironed (sometimes), beds made, rooms tidied, dishes done, floors mopped, bathrooms refreshed, toys packed away and so on. This stuff isn’t necessarily enjoyable but it’s the practical side of a building a family.

Team Mahoney is, well, a team. Not always a highly functioning team but a team nonetheless! Being a team we’re all responsible for the effective running of our home and as such there is a clear expectation that we will each contribute. A key I have learnt though is that whilst I have an equal expectation that we will each contribute, I need to have a different expectation as to outcome.

The simple fact is my 5-year-old has a different capacity to my 12-year-old and therefore a different outcome must be expected. I need to balance the anticipated result with the team member’s actual ability along with their application. If the ability is lacking (from my perspective), then this could simply be a function of age as well as how effectively the “how” has been demonstrated. Importantly, Team Mahoney have a number of age-specific tasks. For instance, my 5-year-old is a gun with matching socks and putting his clothes away – that’s his contribution to the laundry!

Accepting the varying outcomes also means that the work may have to be redone. Not immediately in the presence of the one who first attempted, but at a later time. Either that, or we need to be content with a result that is less than we would expect from ourselves (or an older sibling).

So if we want to ensure that each family member is afforded equal opportunity to contribute, then we need to accept different outcomes, and we need to equally praise the outcomes based on effort. Happy parenting!


Photo: Royalty free image purchased via 123RF Stock Photos

4 thoughts on “A 5-year-old ability does not yield a 12-year-old result”

  1. Very true. The problem is, when your kids grow up so fast, that you’re still expecting 5 year old abilities (letting them skate by) when they’re 12. Keeping on top your kid’s abilities and helping them become capable adults (eventually) is an ongoing process.

    1. Hi Beverly. Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Too true parenting is an ongoing process – there’s no quick fix or magic formula. Cheers!

  2. Great post! It is up to us as family leaders to know our people. We need to know what they can and can’t do, and spur them on without overwhelming them. I wish I would have paid more attention in my developmental psychology class in college!

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