Want Your Kids to Show More Initiative? (Try these 3 things)

Does this sound familiar in your home?… “Why do I constantly have to remind you to put the milk away… throw away your trash… pick up after yourself… do your chores?”  

Most parents naturally desire for their kids to do things on their own without them having to be constantly told what to do.  Yet, it’s a real struggle.  There are times when every parent feels like their children have forgotten every single thing they’ve ever taught them over the years.  And you wonder, why am I still having to remind them to meet these simple common sense expectations. 

While every parent would love to see more initiative oozing out of their kids, here are a few things you can try that will help you get more of the results you want:

  1. More praising, less nagging.  Whether it’s with our spouse, or with our kids, our natural tendency is to nitpick at what they are doing wrong, rather than to recognize and praise them for what they are doing right.  However, praise breeds seeds of positivity, both in the attitude and actions of others.  Nagging always breeds seeds of negativity and contempt.
  2. Incentivize more than you criticize.  Everything you do, even as an adult, has a motivation behind it (you’ll work overtime because you know there’s an incentive.)  What motivation have you given your kids for them to want to do what you’re asking?  Do they know that they will be praised when they do right, not just jumped on when they do wrong?  Are there any rewards or perks for the times they intentionally go above and beyond?  Are you using the natural law of incentives to motivate them? Or are you just naively expecting that your negativity toward their behavior will somehow produce positive results?  
  3. Focus on your focus.  You always get more of what you affirm.  So are you focusing more on the positive or on the negative?  Because whichever you focus on more, you’ll always get more of the same.

In addition to these three ways, here are 3 questions you need to honestly consider:

  1. Am I showing any initiative myself?  If I’m expecting my children to pick up after themselves,  make their bed, or show initiative when they see something that needs to be done, am I first setting the example of doing those things myself?
  2. Have I invested time into teaching and training them?  Most areas where we want our kids to show initiative don’t come naturally to them or anyone. In our sinful nature, we’re naturally sloppy, lazy, and apathetic to what needs to be done around us. So take some time to instruct your kids in the why behind the what that you’re expecting of them.
  3. Do I have any follow through with consistency or accountability?  One of the biggest enemies to our kids showing more initiative is that we often accommodate their laziness by not giving them any accountability or consequences for their actions (or lack thereof). This could easily be remedied through a chore chart, a daily time deadline, or simply making sure you’ve clearly expressed expectations and consequences.

Our children will surprisingly rise to the occasion if we hold them to a high standard, believe in them, and be their chief encourager.

I heard this quote recently, and it resonated with me… “Be the chief encourager of your children, not just the chief police.” 

Good stuff!  And so true.

Which one of these ideas could you work on to help your kids start showing more initiative in your home?

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