What’s the least amount of effort I can put in and still get great results? That’s my mindset with so many things, specifically exercise. Just 20 minutes a day to a leaner bod? Sign me up! If I’m being honest, sometimes I think that way about parenting, too. I want my kids to thrive, but can I make that happen from the comfort of my couch?
Some days, I’m motivated to use an iMOM printable, have a deep conversation, or discover what the latest research says I need to do to help my kids grow. But most days, I’m tired. That’s what’s so great about these 5 things. They don’t take any extra effort from you, but they’ll lead to big growth in your children.
1. Have them speak for themselves.
“Gentlemen?” When we’re out to eat and our server comes to take our order, that’s my verbal cue to my sons that they’re up. They know it’s time to use their manners and eye contact and to articulate what they want to eat. It hasn’t always been smooth—we’ve had the occasional mumbled “cheeseburger” and I’ve often had to remind them to look at the server, not at me—but small acts like this have pushed my kids toward independence and given them the courage to speak to adults with confidence.
A great way to encourage growth in children is to encourage them to speak for themselves at the doctor’s office and restaurants and with teachers and neighbors. It’s a small thing, but it boosts their confidence and shows them their voice has value.
A great way to encourage growth in children is to encourage them to speak for themselves
2. Wait to reply to their questions.
My husband is really good at this. I really stink at it. When our kids ask a question, his first reply is usually “You tell me!” or “I think you can figure that out.” If I’m juggling something else, and I usually am, I’d prefer just to give the answer and move on.
But I want my kids to be independent, critical thinkers. I want them to observe and deduce. And I want them to actually have to think instead of expecting answers to be served to them. By refusing to be a human version of Google or Alexa, we can help foster growth in our children and turn them into better thinkers.
3. Don’t rescue them.
I’ve made it as foolproof as possible for my kids not to leave their school tablets at home. We charge them overnight on the counter right where the kids sit to eat in the morning. When I saw one of them slide his tablet over to make space for a LEGO set he had to finish during breakfast, I knew what was coming. Lo and behold, he walked out of the house without his tablet in his backpack, even after I repeated “Are you sure you have everything?” three times.
It’s so hard not to drive the lunchbox, folder, or P.E. shirt up to school. But when I look back to times I’ve done those things, I can see it wouldn’t have been the end of the world if I hadn’t. They would’ve gotten a checkmark in their planners or had to sit out from an activity, but they also would’ve learned lessons that led to big growth.
4. Start the day well.
Chances are you’re either a resolute bed-maker or not, and I’m not going to convince you to change your ways or your kids’ ways. But one survey showed bed-makers were almost 20 percent more likely to prioritize responsibilities over their desires and to be more productive in their free time. Is it causation or correlation?
Either way, doing something productive or calming in the morning sets the intention for the day. While you’re at it, have your kids wake up to their own alarm instead of to your increasingly urgent voice. If they’re about to oversleep, see point number three and stay strong!
5. Separate them from their siblings.
When I was 12 and my sister was 15, my family went on a cruise. The first day we went to the ship’s kids’ club, I cried when I found out we’d be separated from each other because she was part of the teen group. Two days later, I was on stage in the talent show doing the grapevine to Wilson Phillips’s “Hold On.” I’d met two other girls and formed a quick friendship that probably wouldn’t have happened if I’d had my sister with me.
Whether it’s in Sunday School, play dates, or camps, we’ll see big growth in children when we give them opportunities to develop their personalities independent of their siblings.
What other low-effort things have led to big growth in your children?
ASK YOUR CHILD…
If you had to wake up to the same sound every morning, what would you want it to be?