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Teaching Initiative - Issue 338
March 28, 2014
Hi there! ....

We head off for holidays next week, so this last week has been all about getting ready for that. The kids have done most of their study independent as I had a few projects that needed a lot of my time. This weekend is about cleaning up around the house and packing (I hate packing!)

During our time away we are meeting up with my family to celebrate my Mum’s 70th, then the kids go to a youth camp and we’ll catch up with Pete’s folks, then we have a conference we’ll all attend, and then we go to Easterfest, (for overseas readers, this is the biggest Christian music festival in Australia) then a few more days with Pete’s family before we fly back home. It will be a full on few weeks, hardly a holiday, but we expect to have some good family time, meet up with friends, and whatever else happens!

I don’t know if there will be newsletters or not during this time – we’ll see. So if you don’t hear from me next week, stay in touch with my blog or on facebook.

Live life with your kids!

If you are a new Australian reader I would appreciate you reading this special request.

Teaching our Children Initiative

Initiative is doing what is right, without being told. Initiative helps you maintain your responsibilities, be a blessing to others, and overcome challenges. But for most parents it means we don’t have to tell our kids what to do – they just do it (this is our wish!) But initiative isn’t something that just happens – just because they know the right thing to do – doesn’t mean they’ll do it. We have to teach and encourage initiative.

A lack of initiative looks like:

  • Doing chores when told, but completely forgetting about it otherwise
  • Stepping over things, instead of dealing with them
  • Moaning about being bored
  • Shrugging off new ideas
  • Doing only what was obvious
  • Having no idea of what to do when faced with a problem

There are 3 character traits that drive initiative and as parents, these are the ones we should be working on with our kids:

  • Obedience – To show initiative, our kids need to know how to do stuff. In order to teach our kids skills, they will need to be obedient. Obedience helps a child listen to instruction and then do it. As they do the right thing, under our instruction, they build the muscles that will enable them to do it on their own (initiative).
  • Be other focused – the heart for other people will often provide the opportunity to get up and do something without being asked.
  • Responsibility – if our children do not have the responsibility to do the right thing, they will always be functioning out of obedience, relying on you to tell them what to do. This is the main road block to initiative. We need to stop telling them what to do and instead, tell them that they know the right thing to do and now they have the responsibility to do so.

What does this look like? Domestic blindness is a real thing. Kids won’t see needs; they need to be taught. When I would ask my kids to do something I would verbalise the need I was seeing, not just the task that I wanted them to do. For example: When my friend Mrs C came to visit, I would ask my kids to go and help her unpack her car. I would say: The C-family have just arrived, I’m sure Mrs C has some extra stuff you could help her with. Please go and offer your help. Later on in the day, I would thank them, not for being obedient though they were – but because I was teaching/training to see a need and respond, that is what I needed to thank and praise them for – their willingness to be helpful.

This grew to be such a family way of life, that the kids would just do it. I no longer needed to ask them. They knew that when a family arrived, they could be helpful. I remember being at a concert and suddenly not knowing where my kids where – in a country town this isn’t really a problem – but I looked up and they were racing over to help their friends unpack chairs and eskies. They acted out of initiative.

I no longer ask them to do this. The training is done. It is now up to them to show initiative – or not.

You see, you cannot tell a child to show initiative. As soon as you tell them to do something – you have taken away the ability to have initiative! The best we can do – after we have taught them the skills and encouraged them to have a heart for others, is to prompt them to think about how they could make a difference in any given situation. This is teaching and training towards initiative, without taking over their responsibilities.

A child who is unresponsive towards the needs of others, the correction isn’t that they didn’t show initiative – but rather that they didn’t care about the needs of others. We need to make sure that we make this difference. If we demand that they do things without being told, we produce robots – driven by fear. What we want from our kids is a heart to see needs and respond. Initiative is simply the word we put on that after it has happened.

So if your kids aren’t showing initiative look at the 3 character traits I mentioned and see which aspect in their training needs to be your focus:

  • Obedience – and leaning the skills
  • To be Other focused – having a heart for others, seeing others as special
  • Responsibility – do you need to step back and let them decide to act without being told

During the week I blog at Live Life with Your Kids! This week I posted:
  • Don't let Curriculum Rule your Life
  • Lessons' learnt from Reality TV

  • Or maybe you'd like to read something from my website:

    Check out other homeschool and parenting issues over at my website, Lifestyle Homeschool

    My Bookshop

    Blending Life with Lessons e-book - Does your everyday life challenge your homeschool ideas? This is my journey as I discover that it is possible to disciple my children in today's busy lifestyle.

    Heart Focus Parenting book/e-book - A heart focused parent will keep their attention on their child's heart for God, instead of on external behaviours.

    Restoring the Heart, Mind and Soul of Christmas Do your Christmas celebrations line up with what you believe? Do your celebrations help your children learn more about Jesus?

    This e-book is based on a workshop I held for a couple of years to help families see that Christmas can be a significant tradition in our family life. If we are intentional about how our family celebrates we have the opportunity to use this time to teach our children about Jesus, and his love for each one of us.

    My Sitemap is a quick reference to all you will find on Lifestyle-Homeschool. I encourage you to have a browse around!

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    Until next week

    Belinda Letchford
    Living life with her kids in Australia!

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    Live life with your Kids newsletter is about being a deliberate parent, about enjoying family life and using the opportunities that happen to teach and train your children in righteousness (right living with God). I hope that you will find regular encouragement as you live life with your kids!

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