Teaching your kids about the character trait: initiative.
It’s Friday afternoon and as usual, your kids need to get their rooms cleaned. You’ve told them they can do this anytime, but they won’t be allowed to go anywhere or have friends over until the job is done.
To your amazement, your teenage daughter jumps right on this task. By the time dinner rolls around, her clothes are folded and hung up, all the nail polish is put away and you even heard the vacuum cleaner.
In contrast, your son shrugged his shoulders and turned on the television. “I don’t have anywhere to go and all my friends are grounded.”
The next morning Uncle Tom calls to say he has an extra ticket to the OU game because Aunt Millie is sick. This presents you with a perfect opportunity to discuss the character trait of initiative with your family. Initiative is recognizing and doing what needs to be done before being asked.
Praising children for doing the right thing is a positive and longer lasting way to help children learn character traits. In this situation, Jenny has taken the initiative to get her chores done quickly. In addition to verbal praise, she’ll have the added bonus of attending the football game.
In the working world, initiative is often what separates those who get raises and promotions from those who don’t. When employers are comparing their employees, the one who shows initiative and goes the extra mile is often looked upon more favorably than the one who does just enough to get by. So, initiative is a trait that will serve a child well his entire life.
More immediately, initiative is useful for succeeding in school. Students who begin projects when they are assigned and work diligently nearly always do better than those who procrastinate and wait until the last minute to start working.
Finally, as with all character traits, our children learn the most by observing us. Ask yourself where you fall on the initiative meter. Do you do the things you need to do on a daily basis, or do you put them off as long as possible?
Improving initiative can take time. Change does not happen overnight. Be patient with yourself and your children and remember to recognize the small accomplishments as well as the large ones. Before you know it, a good habit can take shape.
Gayleen Rabakukk is a freelance writer who spends her time in Edmond keeping up with her teenage and preschool daughters.