life skills

Be Careful With Your Stuff-Learning The Hard Way

It’s inevitable that children will break things. Our oldest son was quite careful with his stuff early on and didn’t break very many things. Usually when something of his did break, we would fix it for him. My wonderful husband is a great handy man and can fix almost anything. Then, along came our second son and suddenly lots of things started getting broken. Initially we would fix everything just like we had when we only had one child. We were obviously busier now that we had two children and since things were getting broken at a much more frequent rate, we started getting a pile of toys and things that were waiting to be fixed. For the most part, the children didn’t even seem to miss them. I am not a fan of having toys or work piled up waiting for me. It stresses me and I try to avoid it. So, I decided it was time for a change in our fix it plan.

We changed our fix-ability criteria from “Are we capable of fixing it and is it economical to fix it?” to now adding on “Is it also an absolute favorite toy of the child’s or is it something that we really want their younger sibling to have someday?” With our new fix-ability criteria, we started NOT fixing most of their toys and things. If the toy was unsafe or unusable, they had to throw it away. Otherwise, they could choose to use the item in it’s broken state.

As a result, their pile of toys started diminishing to a more manageable number with no effort on my part. My children seemed more satisfied with less than perfect things (which is something I feel is important for them to learn). I also noticed that the frequency of things getting broken, had decreased! They had learned how to be more careful with their stuff. We had taught them a very important lesson-that not everything can be fixed.

What ways have you used to teach your children to be careful with their stuff?


Brotherly Love or Brotherly War?

Boxing GlovesOne of the Bible verses my children know is Romans 12:10 “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” (NKJV). The words “brotherly love” were nagging at me. I hadn’t been seeing much “brotherly love” in my oldest two boys lately. I was frustrated with their attitudes towards each other. They were fighting and competing with each other a lot. They were even rejoicing in each other’s sufferings. They would try to be first to finish chores in the morning so they could taunt the other one. I know that some of this is male competition, and I don’t mind some competition. It can encourage them to go faster or work harder, but this had gotten out of hand. It was causing fighting and problems. I felt like it was pulling my boys apart. It seemed more like “brotherly war” would have been a better description of their behavior.

Romans 12:10 kept playing in my head. I kept thinking that there was something wrong with my boys. They were not acting like they should. They are brothers, but their behavior was wrong! I want them to be drawn together as brothers. I want them to love each other like brothers and more than friends.

This has been really bothering me lately. I’ve been praying and trying to find ways to foster that “brotherly love” instead of “brotherly war”. I tried making them do chores together. It usually didn’t work very well. My six-year-old would usually whine and complain the whole time and get frustrated because my four-year-old was whining and complaining so much that he wasn’t even doing the chore. If they finished with out my intervention, my six-year-old would usually have ended up doing 99% of the work.

two boys on a rocking horseSo last week, I tried something new, I told them they had to work together to fold the basket of laundry I had just dumped on the bed. And then told them, “Oh yeah, and if I catch either of you not working together, such as not participating in the folding or whining about how the other one isn’t participating, then the boy not working together is going to finish the whole chore by himself.” I then told them that supper was in 30 minutes and that they were not allowed to come out until the laundry was folded and put away. I closed the door and walked away.

They folded the laundry TOGETHER in record time and seemed to actually enjoy each other’s company while doing it. Just in case this was a fluke, I have since repeated the same process a few times. So far, it seems to be working. My four-year-old, of course, had to test if I meant it once, and refused to actually fold a load of laundry. Since my six-year-old was fully participating in the chore without whining, I released him and left my four-year-old to finish the load by himself. The chore was done, there was less whining, and neither of the boys were fighting with each other. This made for a happier and less stressed home. I think I’m going to repeat this process with other chores as well.

How do you foster “brotherly love” in your children?


My View on Life Skills - If You Wait Until Their Teens, It's Almost Too Late

My goal as a parent is to raise God-loving responsible adults. I believe children should be fully capable of being responsible for themselves before they are eighteen years of age. History has clearly demonstrated that men and women are fully capable of this at ages much younger than 18.

My children are young now. I am trying to teach them basic life skills. I intend to teach them most of the life skills I want them to learn, before they become teenagers. Then when they become teenagers, they will have the opportunity to practice these skills under my guidance and supervision, before they are out on their own.

I have a list of life skills that I feel my children will need to know in life as adults. My list has one column for each child. I can check off each skill for each child when I feel that child has learned that specific skill. Such as when my oldest son knows how to sew on a button, I can check it off for him, but not for my other children. That way when my third son is 10, I can look at my chart and know that I haven’t taught him how to sew on a button yet-A skill I don’t practice every day, but feel is important for him to know as an adult. I try to include minor things on my list that I don’t think about often, such as changing the furnace filter. I continue to add things to my list as I think of them.

My list is the same for both my sons and daughters. I believe they both need to know the same life skills. I may teach them the skills differently though. I may teach my son’s how to check and change the oil in their vehicles, where as I may teach my daughter how to check the oil, and how to know when to get it changed at a service station.

I believe it’s not only important to teach life skills to our children, but also to teach them the logic behind the skills. I feel it’s easier to do things, when we know why we are doing them. I also think my children will be more likely to remember the skills I teach them if they know the why behind the skills. And if they do forget something, they will hopefully be able to reason it out.

What’s your view on teaching your children life skills?

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