3 Keys To Working With Kids Successfully
Teaching my kids to work is important to me. I enjoy working and feel that it is oh so valuable in our lives. My mother is still the hardest worker I know and I credit much of how I value this attribute to her.
Growing up we kids wanted a trampoline. My mom said we could have one, as soon as we dug the giant hole it would sit in! It took us a long time, but we dug the hole and got our trampoline.
I want my kids to learn how to work, to develop skills, learn how to push through discomfort, be self sufficient and grow from the effort of work.
Many of our neighbors use a lawn care service. Not us! Yard work is a fantastic tool for teaching the principle of work. Most of our big jobs are in spring and fall. And, acutally, the fall work has become one of the kids most favorite traditions, as you will see.
Here are three tips for you, three things that I think are key, to make working together successful.
1 - We work as a team
It is unfair for me to ask my kids to do something I'm not willing to do myself. We stick together, work together.
Occasionally I will split the kids up for tasks, but for the most part try to keep us all concentrated on the same effort. It's efficient and provides opportunity for us to laugh, talk and even teach.
2 - Set an expectation or a time limit
Yard work, especially, can go on forever! There is always another thing to do. Setting an expectation or time limit helps the kids gauge themselves, and keeps me from extending work time!
I would set an expectation, for example, with flower planting. It's a manageable task, shouldn't take too long, we are all done when the flowers are planted. Another example, pick 100 sticks up and you're done!
If the task is large and needs to be split up, (or finished by parents) we go with a time limit. I ask them to give me a certain amount of work time before they take a break or are finished.
My stipulation with the time limit is that they give me an honest effort. If they can do that, I stick to the end time. If they can't do that then the time may be extended. Most of the time, since they can see the end goal, or time, they are able to work hard because the end is in sight!
I will state the obvious, there is often complaining here and there, "Why do we have to do this", "Are we done yet?", "He's not working as hard as I am!" I mean, they are kids! Life just isn't life without some complaining! But this is a great opportunity for the teaching, encouragement, as well as the reminder of the finish line or expectation.
3 - Reward, reward, reward
Taking care of our home is part of owning our home, we all are responsible for that. I don't preface or 'bribe' with 'reward', in fact I don't know that my kids even think they are being rewarded!!!
But, I know that to encourage behavior we use rewards. It doesn't have to be huge, but it should be meaningful. I want positive feelings to be associated with work, as much as possible, so I reward!
My kids love to play so we will throw the Frisbee or football together, have races across the lawn, something outside, to enjoy the home and yard we just put so much effort into. We may go on a Slurpee run, or sit and eat a treat.
I believe in rewarding with words as well. Never underestimate their power. They hold just as much weight, if not more, than a Slurpee! Kids want to make their parents proud and after working I am more than happy to tell them how awesome they are, that I saw how hard they worked, that I am proud of them for doing it without complaining, or for changing their attitude, or for sticking with us even when it got rough. Reward with words... and high five's, and hugs!
Like I mentioned above the particular job of raking the leaves has become a fall joy. I often look out the window and the kids, and neighbor kids, will have the rakes out to collect leaves!
My daughter had the bright idea several years ago to put all of the leaves on the trampoline. SO FABULOUS! The net contains all of the leaves and you can actually jump in them! They will bury each other, throw the leaves, jump into them, they love it.
That reward, motivated by their own idea of play, has them working without even. being. asked! Now that, that is a proud parenting moment! And my joy is satisfied in theirs.