How would you like to see yourself and your kids grow this year? Personally, I’d like to practice more patience with my kids and contentment within mommy life. I’d like to see my kids grow in cheerful obedience, respect and kindness. Each day in our home offers opportunities for me and my kids to grow. I’ve found it’s easier for my kids to stay on task and be respectful if they know what their job is throughout the day. I start our day by explaining everyone’s jobs. My job is to take care of the kids and my kids’ job is to listen and obey. Defining jobs goes a long way towards enjoying a productive day with young children.
More than Attitude Management
I’m learning that my own attitude often sets the tone for my kids’ attitudes. It helps to begin my day with reasonable expectations. I’d love to enjoy happy kids, a clean house and low-stress moments to teach my kids life lessons. First I must put the work into training my kids to be unselfish, helpful and humble. I can’t expect any other result other than bad attitudes if I haven’t given my kids consistent training. For me, training my kids is more than “attitude management.” To influence my kids’ attitudes towards practical change, I must teach them why they should choose to be unselfish and show them how to have happy hearts.
The Struggle with Self
I’ve observed that my kids’ negative attitudes are generally rooted in selfishness. My child doesn’t want to share their toy and so they create a conflict. My child doesn’t want to listen to me so they refuse, delay, or “obey” on their own terms in a different way than I asked.
Teaching Why to Act Unselfish
Our family uses the Bible for our standard of unselfishness. The Bible influences many of life’s ethics including the Golden Rule. Philippians 2:3-4 offers helpful instructions which moms and kids can use to practice unselfishness.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
I explain to my kids that loving others is one of God’s rules. God gave us his Son Jesus as the ultimate example of unselfishness. Jesus traded in his heavenly throne to live as a man so he could die on the cross for our sins. Understanding the implications of the Gospel or “God’s good news” is a wonderful reason to strive to act unselfishly every day. For kids this could look like choosing to have a “happy heart”.
Teaching How to Act Unselfish
To encourage unselfishness, I’ve found it helpful to give my kids simple jobs during our day. It’s my child’s “job” to be kind at play time and choose to share. It’s my child’s job to obey mommy right away. It’s my child’s job to respect my authority as their mom.
I give consequences and rewards; when my child doesn’t do their job there’s a consequence and when they cheerfully do their job we are able to enjoy our planned fun activities.
I’ve discovered that kids who understand mom’s expectations are kinder, more respectful and more content. I only give my kids one job at a time so they can focus on doing their job well.
How to Give Kids “Attitude” Jobs
The jobs that I give my kids often require them to choose to have a happy heart and a cheerful attitude. When I explain their job, I also explain my expectations for their attitudes. I tell my kids to do their job right away with a happy heart until their job is finished.
Obedience: “Right now, your job is to eat your lunch. Please finish completely before leaving the table.”
Cheerfulness: “Your job is to get ready for nap time. Please put away your toys and find your blanket.”
Unselfishness: “Your job is to play with your little brother while I clean up. Please choose some special toys for him.”
Keep Life Structured and Fun
Just because I give my kids jobs doesn’t mean I’m a task master. We have a lot of fun, probably more than many families, because my kids know my expectations and we are able to get a lot done! We do creative preschool activities within our morning school routine, make lots of crafts, paint our nails and have dance parties.
Structure is key for a constructive daily routine with young kids. My kids need to know what we are doing when they get up in the morning all the way through afternoon naps. Sometimes I need a moment to clean up from an activity or get ready for lunch so the kids get to play independently for 20 minutes, but even playtime is planned into our schedule. After naps my kids usually watch a Netflix show or we run errands, but even during this free time my kids usually know what their jobs are.
As soon as I had 3 kids I realized I needed to integrate structure and discipline into our family life. Teaching kids unselfish habits is so helpful to make daily routines go smoothly. Kids who learn cheerful obedience, respect and kindness at a young age will be a blessing to others for the rest of their lives in their own homes, workplaces and communities. What are some ways you teach your kids to have cheerful attitudes?
Katie has been married for 9 years, has 3 young children, and loves creative projects, photography, decorating, and encouraging others to pursue their ideas. She loves the Lord and feels blessed to be a stay-at-home mom with opportunities to enjoy creative outlets from home.