If Japanese culture has something, governments and families emphasize early childhood education. Children learn to develop their abilities and be disciplined from a very young age. They have efficient techniques, such as the Kaizen method, which helps the little ones learn to be organized and set goals.
What is the Kaizen philosophy?
The reality is that this technique was not explicitly intended for raising children, but it serves a lot of that purpose. Kaizen is a term made up of two Japanese kanji: Kai, which means change, and Zen, which means good or to improve, as indicated in the text How the Japanese Interpret Kaizen by Wayne Macpherson, a professor at Massey University in New Zealand.
It is a philosophy that drives creativity and better results through small, consistent actions that deliver long-term benefits. In many companies, this method has been adopted to eliminate procrastination.
The origin of this approach dates back to World War II. Japan was in serious economic problems, so a businessman named Taiichi Ohno created a methodology to improve production systems based on two values that govern his culture: commitment and discipline.
Kaizen Method Steps
The method consists of the following steps:
- Pick a task that takes no more than three minutes to complete. Some start with less, one minute even, which is called the “one minute rule.”
- Establish an exact time to do that activity to return to your routine after carrying it out.
- Make the activity you selected become a habit.
How to apply the Kaizen method to children
This technique is so effective that it is also applied in the upbringing of children with simple adaptations.
- Designate a task that the children can do every day simultaneously. Try to make them see it as a challenge or a game. “You have three minutes to do it!”
- The task should be the same every day, for example: pick up your shoes, wipe your desk, put away your toys, feed your pet, fold your clothes, set the table, sweep your bedroom…
- Respect the scheduled time. Set the alarm, and you immediately have to do the activity as soon as it goes off.
- You must be together with your little one during those minutes.
- Do not increase the time until you see results.
Why does this technique work?
Being a method that promotes the creation of simple habits in a short time, it is not dull. Little by little, and without noticing it, the task becomes a good habit.
To give you an idea of how they apply the Kaizen method in Japan, in schools, each child has a box with all his school supplies in it. When the day ends, they are given three minutes to collect their things and leave their spaces impeccable. The hustle and the fun attitude of the teachers make it an entertaining activity, far from something imposed.
Another example. In Japan, parents usually create, together with their children, a list of things that they must do every day: learn to add, wash their sneakers, or draw something. Daily goals are set, including spending quality time with family. The trick is that they are small steps that effortlessly make them go far.
Kids need routines
With perseverance, anything can be achieved, and children love routines because they make them feel safer. They are not thinking about what to do but are clear about what to do. Exercises help them organize and avoid chaos. Children feel better when routines are regular, predictable, and consistent.
A tip: Besides making those minutes fun, another way to create the habit is to motivate the children with a prize at the end of the week. In this way, they know that their effort is rewarded.
Start with three minutes, then five, then ten… When the habit is built, your little one will automatically fulfill that task. The time will come when you don’t even look at the clock, and you don’t realize how much time you have spent on the task.
We invite you to practice the Kaizen method with your children. Remember that a series of continuous improvements is more effective than one big change. Small daily goals are easier to achieve, they generate satisfaction because we feel that we are advancing, and the effort is dosed.
Try it and tell us how it went.
Translated by: Ligia M. Oliver Manrique de Lara
Spanish version: here
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