This summer has been a whirlwind but my friends will be starting up another Spiritual Mother’s Group in Copenhagen this fall. Here is a scripture and some thoughts that we talked about at one of our last groups in Stockholm. After just a few months, we had several new mom’s join the group and our kids were building friendship. I will miss them all but look forward to the new relationships we will build this fall.
Responsibility is something we want to teach our children for multiple reasons. I think the greatest reason for me is I want my kids to have the ability to take ownership of his/her life. To not fall victim to the world around them. I loved this from “Raising Great Kids” (Townsend and Cloud):
Responsible kids have learned that their life is their problem. Even though they are loved, valued, and cherished, they have their own jobs in life.
Children who get clear, age-appropriate boundaries about what is expected are more equipped to respond to the requirements of life.
If you under-require (expect less than your child can do), you will generally get what you’ve asked for: underperformance and immaturity. If you over-require (expect more than your child can do), you are likely to get either exasperations or discouragement. (Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:21)
In Genesis 1:28, God gave Adam and Eve responsibility in a perfect world.
Of course we want our kids to be responsible. What are some characteristics of a responsible person?
Teaching our kids responsibility starts earlier than you would think and it takes love, truth, freedom and reality. We need to have a structure for our children that makes “irresponsibility painful and responsibility pleasurable”.
Here are some examples of what love, truth, freedom and reality look like:
Love- “I love you and I know it’s frustrating that you can’t play with everything, Nora. But the oven is hot and it will hurt you. I’m just trying to protect you.” Later… “Thank you for finding something else to play with and doing it so nicely!”
Truth- “Children who get clear, age-appropriate boundaries about what is expected are more equipped to respond to the requirement of life. If you under-require, you will get what you expect.” My mother-in-law always tells me to expect good behavior. That has helped me a lot! Something I’m trying to do is express my expectations before we go somewhere or do something with Nora. I think it helps her to have the expectations clear.
Freedom- Freedom to choose to obey. God gives us the same choice. Control is an illusion. “I can’t make you eat your beans but you can’t have dessert until you eat them.” With a toddler who sometimes isn’t hungry, that is fine. At our table, she can have a “no thank you” bite and then get down. When she is hungry later, the same plate of food that she didn’t eat comes out of the fridge for her to have.
Reality- Structuring consequences for the child. It needs to mirror the real world as much as possible so they can externalizations the way things work. Children will test limits so it’s our job to stay consistent.
-Keep consequences as natural as possible.
-Keep consequences as appropriate to the child’s developmental maturity level as possible.
-Use consequences as soon as possible so the child is able to relate the choice with the consequence.
-Remain loving. Do not remove love as a consequence.
-Be flexible. Change consequences as the child takes on more responsibility and matures.
I was recently at church where my daughter refused to say hi to anyone when they spoke to her. This wasn’t something that I agreed with morally. I think we should respond to others is they acknowledge us. It’s easy to brush that off because my daughter is so young. It’s easy to think, “she’s just tired or shy.” But it’s still a behavior that she has to learn. So I took her in the back and talked with her. I explained that it makes people sad when they say hi to us and we ignore them. I asked her if she likes to be sad. She said no. So then I said, she needs to go back and say hi to the people that said hi to her. Her whole attitude changed and she went back and said hi to everyone, even genuinely! Afterwards, one of my friends made a comment that it’s good to be firm, but gentle. I keep repeating that to myself when it comes time to talking with my daughter.
Last Monday we had a family devotional where we talked about chores. Nora is actually very happy to be involved in what we’re doing so we’ve recently given her some responsibilities at home. So far it’s going good! It’s liberating for her to be able to do more “all by herself” and it’s great for us, especially as a new baby is coming!
Some chores 2-3 year olds can do…
Help make the bed.
Pick up toys and books.
Take laundry to the laundry room.
Help feed pets.
Help wipe up messes.
Dust with socks on their hands.
Mop in areas with help.
Nora’s current chores are to:
Take her plate to the sink.
Put napkins on the table before a meal.
Clean up toys.
I love seeing how proud she gets when she accomplishes a task. And I love being able to praise her for becoming a “big girl” and being more responsible!