Join us as we share tips on how to raise motivated learners and equip them with the skills to pursue the path the Lord lays before them.
I could hear them; the dishes being moved in the kitchen, the refrigerator door being opened many times. Just what were they up to in there? Knowing sleep was out of the question at this point, we wandered into the kitchen and got quite a shock. Our kids had made us breakfast. The food was cold left-overs from the night before and our kitchen was slightly messy, but, hey, they were trying; right?
To be motivated learners, our children need to learn to take initiative. They need to be comfortable with stepping up, stepping out (of their comfort zones), and moving forward; all without someone else telling them to do it.
Model – As always, our children learn best by example. Do they see us stepping up when people need help, volunteering our time and effort? How often do we visualize a goal and take the initiative to make it happen? If our children see our ambition, they are more likely to feel comfortable with moving in the same direction.
Opportunity – Our children cannot take initiative if we are constantly hindering them from stepping forward. Yes, there might be some messes along the way and it might require a little training on our part. However, by not allowing them to lead, you fail to train them to be good leaders or create lifelong followers.
- Let Them Volunteer – When our children want the opportunity to help, we try to let them. The job might not get done right, the first time, but that isn’t the important issue at that moment. By volunteering, our children learn to put others first and gain new skills in the process.
- Let Them Lead – How will our children learn to be good leaders if we never let them lead? Occasionally, it helps if we permit our children to be the ‘man out in front’. They can organize a field trip, babysit the little kids, cook a meal, or dole out chores. It doesn’t matter in what capacity they lead, just that they be given the chance and be taught how to lead well; with grace, humility, love, and kindness.
- Let Them Plan – As our children grow, giving them opportunities to plan is essential. If we are going on a field trip, I encourage them to research the location and decide how the day will pan out. If there is a sewing project, I would expect them to organize a list of things they might need and determine if we have everything to start the project. By allowing our kids to be a part of the planning process, they are learning organization, thoughtfulness, scheduling, research skills, and more.
- Support Them – Our kids need to know we not only welcome their initiative, but we want it. If they ask for advice, we give it to them. If they need direction, we advise. No matter what, we let them know we believe in them and show appreciation.
- Remind Them of What’s Important – Should our children lose their way, we gently remind them of their goal and why they chose to step forward. By helping them refocus, we encourage them to keep moving.
- Recognize Effort – All acts of initiative won’t be successful; I know mine aren’t! This doesn’t mean we use the opportunity to ridicule our children. They may not have succeeded this time, but they did learn something along the way and should be applauded for giving it a try.
- Let Them Know They’re Needed – As our children mature, we should be clear about areas in which they are not only wanted, but needed, encouraging them to take initiative and tackle them for us. People are more likely to step up when they know their efforts are worthwhile and meaningful to those for whom they are being done.
- Reward Success – Positive reinforcement lets children know they are on the right path. When they succeed in some area of leadership or volunteer work, we need to let them know they are doing a good job. This does not mean we over indulge them or break out the band for every accomplishment, that would spoil them and lead them to believe this is necessary each time. However, there is no harm in letting them know their work was done well and did not go unnoticed.
Sure, you might end up with a mess and messes are sometimes a pain to clean up, but memories are being made and the lessons being learned are worth far more than your clean house. Allow your kids to take initiative, it creates learners who are motivated to not only tackle what’s before them, but to seek new goals.
It gets better over time, I promise. That first cold, take-out breakfast was just the beginning. The next year it was french toast; the year after that a menu was involved. This year, we got the works. Yeah… it definitely gets better.
Time to Chime In: What scares you the most when you think of your kids taking initiative?
“Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
– Proverbs 22:6