Welcome to Day 4 of Teaching Them Diligently – a 5 day series of encouragement, tips and lessons we’ve learned in our family as we seek to raise our children according to God’s Word and parent with diligence.
Make sure you come back each day this week as we will be discussing a different topic. There’s so much more I need to know and learn, so please, leave your comments and ideas so we can interact, learn and encourage each other!
Day 4 – Training Your Children to be Diligent
Day 5 – Cultivating Servanthood in our Children
Training Your Children to Be Diligent
Work while you work,
Play while you play,
This is the way
To be happy each day.
All that you do,
Do with your might,
Things done by half
Are never done right.
Diligence. It’s a difficult thing for even adults to master. Yet we tend to expect it in so many ways from the young ones we have in our care.
Why can’t you remember to put your clothes back in the drawer? (Oh, wait, my pajamas are still on the bed….)
You’re supposed to sweep the floor after every meal, you forgot again? (And mom’s supposed to meal plan more than once a month…oops)
Could you please hurry up and finish cleaning up your room? (The dishes? Oh I haven’t finished the dishes yet? SQUIRREL! IE Facebook)
How many times have I told you not to bring toys to the table? (Or phones….)
Hopefully you’re able to laugh a bit at the above as these are just some areas in my life that my kids and I struggle to be diligent with. And the answer to this trouble is?
Consistent training. And diligence. No joke. In training your children to be diligent, you must be diligent to consistently train them, and yourself.
Does that sound like we’re going in circles? No beginning and no end? Well, let me ‘esplain.
When you’re tempted to throw up your hands when telling the kids to put away their clothes/toys/books after themselves for the 150th time, take a moment. And a breath.
Training in diligence is a life-long journey. It is not something that is going to be accomplished in a few hours, months, or even years.
It’s a day-in, day-out commitment to slow steps forward.
It’s not a race and it won’t be finished until we are made whole with our Saviour. So mom, dad, just put those thoughts of perfection and immediate change out of your head. It ain’t gonna happen.
But what you ARE going to see happen are small changes. Remember, when we are training our children in anything, but especially in diligence, small changes happening over a long period of time result in big changes later on in life. We are laying the foundation for their future, and by doing so with patience, consistency and diligence, we will be honouring God in our calling as parents.
How does this play out practically in day-to-day life? These are some of the ways we help our children to be diligent.
1. Job Training
Take the summer months when school schedules are slower to do some new job training (or re-training). Over the summer we teach our kids new tasks and help them to get better at the current jobs they have (or areas they’re slacking in).
Keekers is learning to clean the bathroom and sweep the floor. The Boy and JJ are both taking on an extra task in vacuuming and mopping around the house for the fall.
Don’t expect perfection, even after having shown them a hundred times how to do the job.
When they’ve missed a spot, gently bring them back to it, point it out (kids don’t see dirt the same way adults do!) and have them go over it again. We ONLY do this for jobs they are required to do around the house and it has to be done carefully, being aware of their desire to please and do a good job, and not crush their spirits.
If they volunteer to do something and don’t quite do it to your standard, resist the temptation to have them redo it, or redo it yourself. Praise them for their work, and the NEXT time they do that job, point out specific areas they may have missed previously.
2. Picking Up After Yourself
This one is probably something that is a seemingly endless job. Most kids just are not aware of messes as (most) adults are. So instead of losing your patience over the mess left behind once again, bring them back to it BEFORE going on to the next activity.
If we’re doing colouring at the table, it has to all be cleaned up before going on to playing outside. Or if the kids take out a bin (or two :D) of toys, they need to put those away before pulling the next one out (with some exceptions, of course).
We keep almost all our toys in bins and a lot of them “out of sight” so they have to request them or make an effort to get to them. That way they are thinking more about what they’re using and oh, yeah, I have to tidy that up first.
It’s annoying and frustrating having to constantly remind them, but doing it with gentleness and before too much time has passed definitely helps.
Tell them why you’re having them do what they’re doing instead of just leaving things lying around. Talk about stewardship, treating our things with respect, taking care of them so we can continue to enjoy them.
As to the issue of clothing lying around the room? Sigh. We’ve tried fining them for every item left out. We’ve tried taking their clothes away (boys don’t care, haha!). We’ve tried threatening removing privileges. Nothing worked.
So we resorted to continually reminding them, over and over, to keep putting their clothes away. Each morning and evening we have a High 5 routine – pee, brush teeth, get changed, clothes away, make your bed (or get into bed). This helps to keep them on track, but we still have to deal with clothing issues (as do mom and dad :D).
3. Moving Quickly
Have you ever told your kids to clean their room and gone back in half an hour and it looks messier than it was 30 minutes before? How about an hour later? Any progress made? So it’s not just my kids, oh good!
It is ridiculous the amount of time it takes kids to clean rooms. Do they not realize how much free play time they are wasting by lolly-gagging around, picking up one Lego piece per minute, one book in 5 minutes (because you know they’re reading it instead of cleaning up)?
Frustrating, isn’t it? I mean, when I’ve got a job to get done quickly, I get right on it and NEVER get distracted, right? (Remember those dishes? I’m just going to hop on Facebook and see what everyone else is up to…………..”)
How do we teach our children to move quickly when given a job to do? We give them guidelines, and we give them an incentive.
No, I’m not talking about a bribe. A reward. An incentive for moving quickly. And a natural consequence it they don’t get it done.
Example: Hey kids, we are going to head out to the park in about 30 minutes, but your room needs to be cleaned before then. I’m going to put the timer on for 20 minutes and you get it done fast! If you don’t, we won’t be able to go to the park.
There are some key things to making this method work.
- Make sure you’ve left enough time for them to get the job done! Be fair and give them enough warning and the benefit of the doubt (if you know they can clean their room in 15 minutes, give them a bit more time).
- Make sure the incentive is something that is motivating. If you’ve already been to the park that day it may not be the most motivating reward. It could be watching a movie or going to get ice cream or reading a book together.
- Make sure you’re ready to follow through on the consequence before you give an ultimatum.
You don’t HAVE to always have an incentive for cleaning up. Sometimes we simply just put the timer on and tell them to have at it (and PLEASE get it done before the timer goes!).
If we go through a round or two of the timer being on, it becomes a disobedience issue and a matter of a heart attitude that needs to be dealt with.
4. Encouraging Finishing the Job – Zones
The other day we were in the backyard pulling weeds off the patio. I said “Hey, come on kids, let’s get these weeds pulled then we can have some freezies! Woo hoo!!!”.
I have never seen children move so slowly in my life.
It was like they were in slow motion mode. Granted, we had just gotten back from camping, so they were all tired out and unmotivated. But I mean, come on, freezies?!?!
Instead of getting frustrated, I grabbed some chalk and marked off “zones”. Each child had a section to work on. Suddenly, I had workers on my hand, getting the job done!
Rather than seeing an entire patio that needed to be weeded and getting discouraged, the kids now saw small sections that were their own responsibility and needed attention. They were motivated and encouraged to get the job done much faster.
We are much the same! Take getting back from camping and unpacking for example (or any trip for that matter). Look at the mess as a whole, and it’s enough to make the strongest person emotionally dissolve into tears right in the middle of the sandy pile of wet swim suits.
But take each task as a small step, and you’ve already reduced the stress level. Our kids are the same. Give them a task they can see to completion, a job they can SEE themselves finishing, and you’re much more likely to get some action.
We do the same thing around the house for chores and tidying up. Each child has a kitchen zone and a house zone they are responsible for, and they rotate each week. Yes, they still need to be reminded (they’re kids, and their minds are not on chores!) and guided, but manageable areas of responsibility in place for them to tackle and not be overwhelmed by is a huge step toward helping them learn diligence.
In what ways do you encourage your children to be diligent? How do you handle the constant messes, things left undone, and motivation for seeing things through to completion?
Check out more 5 Day series in the Summer Hopscotch with iHomeschool Network bloggers