Helping them help themselves...

Ultimately I want my kids to leave me and make their way out into the world with SKILLS for being contributing, cooperative members of society.


Is that too much to ask??  I think not...

And one of the skills I would like to help them develop is follow through.  And engaging in tasks that may not be that fun to do.  Work before play....  You know what I'm talking about, right?


Or, "jobs." as we like to call them.

I have written about this before.  Jobs are not negotiable at our house.  We do them because we all live together and we all need to help out.

And, as I have mentioned, how they get done is up to the kids.  

The finny thing is, my daughter has really been dragging her feet with the whole "daily job" routine and it is making me CRAZY!!  She is really pushing back on the follow through.  She tends to be really responsible and self motivated in other areas...  So I was curious about what this was about...  The other day, I asked her.

I posted this little video on Facebook and got tons of feedback.  Many parents were wondering what happens when she didn't "just do" her work, her job/chore,  when I held back on the reminders.

I loved that it got people all riled up!  Clearly this is something that many of us struggle with, I mean, none of us love  to nag our kids, but what else are we supposed to do??

Well, this inspired another short video:

This was fun on two levels.-

One, I invited my child into my offer to the world, right?  She is now "on the Joyful Courage team" and knows she is contributing to my work.  Love that.

And two, she shared "what works for her" in a way that made it really alive for her.

Or so I thought.

Well, it wasn't two days from when I posted the video that I was saying "If you get on the iPod before you get your chore done, I am going to take it away."

Gross, I hate saying things like this to my kids.  For me, it is a total I have run out of skills and don't know what else to do so I will threaten you moment.

So we went back to the drawing board.  I asked her about what she had agreed to do - get her job done right after school.  I mentioned that despite what she had said, this tool she had created didn't seem to be working for her.

She said, with a bit of a dismissive voice, "Yeah, writing it down just isn't my thing.  It doesn't help me. I'm just going to remember to do it."  

And you know what I heard?  You're going to have to come up with something different because your kool-aid doesn't work on me.

HA!  Oh this girl, my sweet teacher.  This was a moment that could have gotten really emotional, where I could have become defensive and critical.  Instead I said, "well, what would help you? You don't want me to nag. You seem challenged by just 'remembering to do it.' I am unattached to how you help yourself to remember, this is about you, not me."

It was glorious. And I am not going to lie, I was proud of myself.

Because the goal here isn't that she does what I want her to do (although wouldn't that be lovely???).  My goal is for her to develop the skills she needs to go through life...  

When I told her that I didn't care how it looked or what she did to help herself, that it was about her, something shifted.  She sat down at the computer and created this:


And this morning, she did a job before school.

We will see how tomorrow goes...  

One thing I know I can count on - this will be helpful for a while.  And eventually, she will be creating something new to remind her to follow through with what she says she will do.

Living the dream over here.

Let me know what you think!