I was reading an article today by Leslie Josel in Family Circle magazine about what happens when you stop telling your kids what to do. Ms. Josel had an interesting take on the way we run our lives and direct our children and I think she makes a very good point. I only wish I’d read this when my girls were growing up, but it’s never to late to start with the questions Josel outlined.
Her point was that she would run around in a rush and tell her kids to get the soccer ball, water bottle and snack. She never gave them a chance to think for themselves. Boy, was I guilty of this. I am so Type A that it isn’t funny. It was so much easier for me to pre-pack a bag for my kids and tell them to grab their backpack, grab their lunch, grab whatever. I could ensure that they never forgot anything and were always prepared. But were they?
Teaching Your Children Responsibility
No! My kids were never prepared. I was the one who was prepared and they had to take no responsibility for it at all. Why would they? I packed their lunches and told them not to forget them. I packed their backpacks and reminded them to grab them. I did everything.
Here is the thing, you should instead say, “What do you need to take to school tomorrow?” or “Do you have everything you need for soccer?”
If the child chooses to not be prepared he or she will learn. Yes, it might be uncomfortable to be the only parent whose child is doing without a water bottle for that practice, but your child will learn a valuable lesson that if you don’t take the time to prepare for practice you are going to be thirsty until you get home.
Questions to Ask Your Kids
The point that Jolen makes is to ask your kids questions that make them think ahead. This teaches them to be forward thinkers. So, you can ask things like “How do you plan to achieve that?” or “What are the steps you’re going to take to meet your goal?”
You get the idea. Instead of doing everything for them, like I did, take the extra time and effort to let them do for themselves and think for themselves. It will take more time and effort now, but it will pay off in the future. Learn from my mistake on this one. It was very hard for my kids to start taking responsibility once grown. One is still working on it. I could have made it a lot easier on them by not making it easy on them.