Initiative is a trait that most parents want to see in their children. We know that initiative will help our kids be in the front of the pack, that they will be recognized and sought after by employees. Initiative helps overcome boredom and problem solving in general.  It is a skill found in leaders and go-getters. It is a valuable trait.

Character Core defines Initiative as: recognizing and doing what needs to be done before I am asked.

Let’s define it further:

  • Initiative is a heart matter that goes beyond responsibility. E.g. Say it is a child’s responsibility to do the breakfast dishes. They can show initiative by doing it early, or going the extra mile (doing an extra task that they saw needed to be done), Initiative is the act of making a decision on your own.
  • But it is also closely connected with skill. If a child decides to take initiative and cook mum breakfast in bed, before she has the skill to do so we can only imagine the mess and possibly the danger that their “showing initiative” will bring. This isn’t true initiative.
  • Initiative is not just doing what you want to do when you want to do it. Initiative combines responsibility and skill with the heart to make a difference.

But how do we teach it to our children? The very nature of telling our children to do something, takes away the opportunity for them to show initiative – so it seems (on the surface) a tricky thing to teach.

There are four steps:

Teach Responsibility

Our children need to understand that there are certain spheres in their life that are their responsibility. These spheres increase with age and maturity. Our children also need to see that when they take on a responsibility (or are given it) they are accountable for that to happen, and they receive the consequences when it doesn’t happen. Since initiative is a step on from responsibility our kids must understand responsibility first.

Teach Skill

We cannot simply tell our children that their bedroom is their responsibility without giving them the skills to carry out that task. We need to teach them the steps to master that responsibility. It is the same with any issue we want them to be responsible with – chores, possessions, time, study, money, relationships.

Encourage a serving heart

We need to open our children’s eyes to the possibilities of initiative. We want to appreciate their responsibility (that they have done what we have expected of them) and their skill (that they have done it well) but we can open a whole new world by showing them that they can take it further – the skills they have will enable them to go the extra mile, to see what needs to be done ahead of time, to make decisions on their own, to serve others. That is, to show initiative. Initiative can be highly regarded in our home but we need to remember that it is a heart response to others and to our responsibilities.

Let them make choices and decisions

We need to give our children the environment in which they can show initiative. Unfortunately we often hold the reigns so tightly it is hard for the children to be anything other than obedient. When we make all the decisions, and they are different each day, our children have very little scope to do anything other than to wait for instructions.

When we give our children a clear picture of what is expected of them – what chores they need to do, what lessons they have ahead of them, what activities they need to complete before they have free time, then we are empowering them to show initiative. We are setting the scene for them to work in. They have some scope from which to make some decisions themselves and show their heart to serve.

At no time does this remove the responsibility from our shoulders to ensure that things are happening when they need to – it simply gives a framework for the children to begin to show initiative.

Set the scene so your kids can show Initiative

Here are some things that have helped raise the levels of initiative in our home:

Chore roster

By having a chore roster the children know ahead of time what chores are expected to be done on a daily or weekly basis (their responsibility). They can make the decision to work fast and get it done quickly, sometimes they can make a decision to do tomorrow’s chores today. They can even make a decision to do more than is on the list or to do something on someone else’s list. This is taking initiative. Their chore charts are comprehensive so there is never the threat of finishing early and being dumped with a pile more to do – how unmotivating is that! (Of course there are the occasions that I ask for extra help but it isn’t the norm, everyday happening.)

Study schedule

This looks different for the different ages we have in our home. The older ones have a study schedule covering 4-6 weeks. They are responsible for getting the study done by the end of the study period. It is their choices that will manage their responsibilities; they have a framework in which to show initiative in their studies. The younger ones have a daily list which they are responsible for completing before they have free time. Knowing what needs to be done gives them the opportunity to start early and manage their time and work load – and when they do so, they are showing initiative.

Talking about possibilities

When we go into a new situation I have the opportunity to remind my children of the heart to bless others. I ask them, “How will you be able to bless so and so today?” I have no control over the decision – will the child do so or not? It is simply exposing them to possibilities and prompting their heart to think about it. Then it is about confirming them when they make a good decision. We so often only remind our children about their responsibilities (to do the right thing) rather than heart choices. We need to do both. Initiative is a heart choice to go beyond their responsibilities.

Practicing Seeing

Sometimes we just don’t see things. But it needn’t stay that way. We can show our children opportunities for initiative all around them, day in and day out. When I see something that could be done, something that I wish my child saw I call them to me and we stand still and I say, “Can you see something that could be done?” or “Can you see something that you could do that would bless someone?” or “Could you have gone the extra mile here?” There is a big hint that whatever mum is talking about is in this room somewhere and when they see it you ask them to do it and remind them of the habit going the extra mile, serving others, or showing initiative. This creates an appetite for initiative, it develops a habit – that they will start to see these things for themselves.

Do you see Initiative in your kids?

I encourage you to think over your daily routine – Do your children have the opportunity to show initiative or are they only being obedient and responsible? You can set the scene and by doing so encourage them to grow in initiative.

Further Reading:

10 things that lead to irresponsibility – Though we want to teach our children responsibility sometimes its the subtle things we do that will keep irresponsibility at bay.

Obedience requires communication – Communication, both ways, is important if obedience is going to be a part of your family value system includes a bonus for parents with teens.

Do you Really want Independent Kids? – Raising independent kids seems to be a good goal, but when we look at the heart of independence we actually want something else.

How Responsible are your Kids? – We teach our children to be responsible but if we never test them, we never know how responsible they really are.

Throughout the week I share with other blogs – check out my Link ups and Party page

Initiative takes a child beyond obedience and helps them be truly responsible - but it often depends on how a parent encourages responsibility.Initiative takes a child beyond obedience and helps them be truly responsible - but it often depends on how a parent encourages responsibility.Initiative takes a child beyond obedience and helps them be truly responsible - but it often depends on how a parent encourages responsibility.

Initiative takes a child beyond obedience and helps them be truly responsible - but it often depends on how a parent encourages responsibility.

Initiative takes a child beyond obedience and helps them be truly responsible - but it often depends on how a parent encourages responsibility.

Be Intentional

 Every week I'll email an encouragement to stay intentional and relational in all your family life.  But for now, download your set of reminder posters - posters which I've used over the years to remind me to keep my eyes and heart on what is important.

Thank you for joining me. You have successfully subscribed and will receive an email from me shortly. (You never know which folder emails will land in so keep an eye out for my "Thank you" email.) Stay in touch... Belinda - Live life with your Kids!

Download your worksheet and start working on your family vision statement.

Get the Family Vision Worksheet

I will email you the download link.

The download link is on it's way.

Individual Education Planning Worksheets - brainstorming every area of your child's life.

Get your Planning Worksheets

I will email you the download link so you can start looking at all the different spheres of your child's life before you make any curriculum choices. 

The download link is on it's way.

Get a copy of the Jelly Bean Story

I will email you a download link.  You can print and share this story with your kids and their friends.

The download link is on it's way.

This parent guide helps parents plan family bible study and use discussion techniques to teach the important lessons.

Bible study Guide for Parents

Guide includes tips, planning worksheet, and discussion prompts. I will email you a download link.  

Thanks for being here! The download link is on it's way.

Obedience looks a bit different as our kids grow older. Download this parent/teen discussion guide to understand this issue of obedience in teen years.

Download your Free Discussion Guide

Don't assume your kids are rebelling - instead talk to them about what Obedience looks like now they are older.  I will email you a download link.  

Thanks for being here! The download link is on it's way.

Download yourCharacter Certificates

Though true character is driven by internal motivation, our children will appreciate when we see that they are growing in character.

Thanks for being here! The download link is on it's way.

Download your Character Certificates

Though true character is driven by internal motivation, our children will appreciate when we see that they are growing in character.

The download link is on it's way.

Over 20 different verbal expressions divided into heart or self control to help parents discern these behaviours.

Download your Cheat Sheet

I will send you the link to download this cheat sheet that will help you discern between a heart attitude and a lack of skill.

Thanks for being here! The download link is on it's way.

Download Grow in Character Worksheets

Download Grow in Character Worksheets

I will email you the download link.

The download link is on it's way.

Download Grow in Character Worksheets

You will receive an email shortly with the details. Watch your inbox.

Thank you for being here - your download link will arrive shortly.

Download Parenting Poster

Download Parenting Poster

Learn to respond to your child in a way that changes their heart.

 

I will email you the download link.

The download link is on it's way.

Download Parenting Poster

Download Parenting Poster

 

Learn to respond to your child in a way that changes their heart.

 

I will email you the download link.

Thank you for being here - your download link will arrive shortly.

Our children hear different words when we react to when we respond. Do your children hear blah blah blah when you correct them? Includes a parenting poster.

Download Parenting Poster

 

When we Respond instead of React we find a way to deal with the heart not just behaviour.

 

I will email you the download link.

Thank you for being here - your download link will arrive shortly.

Pin It on Pinterest