One of the long-term goals we have in teaching our children is helping them to govern their own behavior. Taking initiative is not something we associate with very small children; it is a quality cultivated over time.
A child who does not have control over his spirit is like a city whose protective walls of defense have been broken down. Self control is extremely important, but we don’t always know how to develop it.
My sister-in-law Martha has assigned chores for her children, but she also has a “pick a chore” assignment. That means after the normal chores are done, the child is to look around for something that needs to be done around the house, and do it. I love this idea. Children don’t always choose difficult or time intensive jobs, but the very process of looking for something that needs attention is what is most valuable in this exercise.
A week or so ago, I bought some candy corn and put it in the candy jar near where I was sitting. Of course, one of the children came by and asked, “Can I have some?” I told her yes. When she asked how many she could have, I told her that she could have as many as she wanted, as long as she wasn’t being greedy. Word quickly spread to the other two children. This was a novel idea, and it was fun for me to see them walk by and talk about how they had determined that they had taken enough. They consumed the candy faster than they would have had I given them a stated limit, but again, I was more interested in the process of evaluating, “What does it mean to be greedy or sinfully indulgent?”
What have you done to help your children develop the ability to govern their own behavior?