PRACTICALITY - "This job needs doing... by you."
One of the most hirable skills in today's world is the ability to see a job that needs doing, to be able to figure out a way to do it efficiently... and then TO DO IT.
Give your children the gift of this unique skill of identifying jobs that need doing and the ability to do those jobs cheerfully with little or no supervision! You can give this skill to your children by giving them jobs to do (simple at first) and then getting out of their way and letting them do the whole job, start to finish.
Start early. If your children are still just toddlers give them simple chores to do and then let them do them. Do not start out by saying, “My kids will not do work because they are lazy!” or anything like that. Hold high expectations for them to complete the jobs and then work beside them or near them so they can imitate your manner of working at a task to completion.
As a child I learned more about how to do a task by watching my father work than I did from any explanation he ever gave me. When he did give instructions they were far more ideas about my capability to work independently than they were about how to do the job. I remember when I was first given the job of raking hay on our ranch. On my first day on the job within the first few hours I had the tractor and rake stuck! I had the front wheels in a ditch and the hind wheels of the rake caught in a fence. When Dad came into the field to see what was keeping me from raking, I will never forget what he said to me.
A Lesson From Dad
He walked over to me and said, “Huh, I thought a little feller with your intelligence would have figured out how to get this tractor unstuck! In case you didn’t know it… you are the brains in this outfit! If this tractor had the smarts to run itself I would have left it out here to work by itself. The next time you are in a fix… THINK! You can figure out situations like this!”
Give Your Kids a Gift... "Think!"
Then he said, “Watch this!” He picked up an old fence post lying nearby and put it in the ditch behind the front wheels. Then he began to back the tractor up while shouting over the noise of the engine, “See how those wheels of the rake are dropping as the front wheels climb onto the post? The next time you are in a pickle use your head!”
I find myself doing that even today. My dad’s words echo in my head as I write this article. “THINK!” Dad gave me the amazing gift of believing in my ability to think and reason things out for myself. He knew how to fix the problem but what he wanted for me was for to be able to figure out how to solve the problem. Those are such different things! Teaching a child how to do something verses teaching a child how to figure out how to do something for themselves!
Let Jobs Be Self-Rewarding!
As your children complete a job, let the satisfaction of completing it be the payoff. It will not be necessary for you to offer lavish praise. A simple statement from you like, "Nicely done, you did that complete job without any help. Doesn't it feel great to do things on your own? It buys you a big bunch of respect and it buys lots of freedom to do things on your own because I do not feel the need to check up on you."
If your children are older and do not seem to be able to do any job on their own and also seem unwilling to do any job on their own, do not become discouraged! Just like them, you have a job to do. THINK! Reason out some ways YOU can start teaching this child how to figure out a way to do a job! You can do it. Your job may be a little tougher since the child is older, but start today. Every day you wait just means the job becomes more difficult!
Following are some ideas to get you started. First off, with an older child, explain to them what you are trying to do. Tell them the truth! “I have waited too long to begin to show you the amazing abilities you have but I want to start today. I would like for you to organize your room today. I will be available to help you but I want you to organize your room so that it works for you.”
Just think about this from your child’s point of view. Imagine how different it will sound to the child. Rather than saying, “Your room is such a mess. I often wonder how you can stand to live in there!” Think about how your child will feel when you express your confidence in their ability to organize their room.
Ask your children to change or limit their behavior because you have the confidence in their abilities. It is practical and it is very wise to be a positive wizard in your child’s life by showing them how to use their own abilities!