Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Leading the Way

Logan has a list of jobs to do each morning, ranging from putting away the clean dishes to making his bed. As he gets older, I intended to add more responsibilities to his list of jobs. Then it occurred to me that a long list of items to complete and check-off is not exactly what I want to teach my children. I want them to develop the ability to decide what needs to be done and then do it while gaining independence and a sense of worth through setting and completing their own goals. Completing a list someone else gives you will only get you so far in life.

I thought of two areas that I think are the most important for a five year old - Taking Initiative and Finding Solutions. After asking my husband what he thought of my idea and getting a kind of crazy look, I went ahead with my plan. Once I get something in my head, there's no stopping me.

Since that day, my husband has seen the wisdom of this idea and makes a point to talk about our two initiatives with Logan. 

When I talked with Logan about Taking Initiative and Finding Solutions, I gave him simple ideas (like picking up a piece of paper on the floor and throwing it out) and then whenever he did something in one of those areas, we gave him a lot of praise. Logan even started to point out his good deeds. Believe it or not, (because I know some of you are reading this and thinking I am nuts) Logan liked the idea. After all he was being given responsibility, decision making power and independence.

One day after we introduced these concepts, Brooke, one of Ben's new CAP (Community Alternative Programs) workers was coming to our house to help. Without being asked, Logan showed Brooke a few activities that we do with Ben. He facilitated Ben putting the shapes on the sorter, giving Ben props when he was successful and showing him the way to do it if Ben had a hard time.

What Logan taught Brooke was something either I would have had to do or asked another CAP worker to do. Logan was thoughtful, positive and creative. He also was mild mannered with Brooke, showing her what to do without being too bossy or pushy.

We may have set our expectations too low when we gave Logan the example of seeing trash and throwing it out because clearly he has taken it to another level.

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