Do your children know what you love to do? Do they know what you are reading about? Do they see you working on goals? They should!
There is a well known, but not so well practiced, fact that children copy or mimic what they see you doing. You know this. You hear it every time they say to you or their sibling that phrase. “Many hands make light work.” “Hard work helps you get better.” “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” Or maybe your little is nursing her baby doll. Or giving it a thrashing. Sometimes it is sweet or exciting. Other times it might make you cringe. Well, let us be more intentional about what we are teaching and showing our children to make less of those cringe moments and more sweet and exciting ones.
So first off, ARE you setting and working on goals? Are you reading great books? Do you practice or work on a skill that brings you joy? Well you SHOULD!! Read more about Inspire, Not Require Here
If we want them to do all those things then it makes sense that WE need to be doing those things. But for this post we are going to talk about having your children SEE you doing those things!
Have them see your goals
As for goals, be sure to post them up, not only where you can see them but where the kids will see them! Have them see what you are working on. Talk about scary right? Built in accountability partner right there! Already you are more motivated to accomplish them aren’t you? Win-win. Because now that they see you are making and working on goals, they will be inspired to make some goals. It might not be the first time, or the 5th time.
But guess what? You are creating a family culture of making goals. They are beginning to think subconsciously that, “We make goals” and it will be even more natural and real than if you push them to make their own goals. Because then they are just jumping through hoops to get you to leave them alone and not really taking ownership.
So continue to make those goals and have them where the kids can see them. But it doesn’t stop there. You need to TALK about it! At the dinner table or after you complete a task or project. Celebrate! “Whoo hoo!! I just completed a 50lbs bench press.” or “Yay! I just completed my 30th book for the year! I am on track for the year!” Even small wins! Share and celebrate with them! High fives, treats, or an outing. Let them see you working on and achieving!
Involve them in your goals
An even better way to have them see and hear about your goals are to include them in making them happen. I have a friend that has her children pick up her books from the library that she is excited to learn from. Maybe have them put the sticker on the chart or even better let them know you need their help to make something happen.
My friend is trying to get to bed earlier so she lets them know that in order to meet her goal, they need to finish up and go to bed. I let my kids know that I need to work for 30 minutes, so after spending special time with them I let them know that they can help by taking care of their baby sister and playing downstairs. This allows them to help as well as learn independence and look out for someone other than themselves.
So tell them your goal you are working on and if they could help by doing something specific. Usually children are ready to be helpers and want to see you succeed. So be sure to follow up with what you did with their help.
Successes are easy to celebrate. But what about failures? Share those too!! They need to see how to get back up and keep trying.
Have them see you reading
Another thing you might want your children working on is reading. For some this comes second nature and without much pushing. But what about deep reading and growth. Are you sharing what YOU are LEARNING from the books you are reading? Do you want them reading self improvement books or even just improving from the books they are reading? Then YOU need to set the example and talk about what you are learning.
This is done easily around the dinner table. Go around and share what everyone learned that day. Be sure to point out every now and then that yours was from a book you are currently reading. Bonus if you share a connection you made in the TWO that you are reading concurrently.
Another great way to incorporate this if you homeschool is during morning time or devotional or whatever you call it. In the morning or whenever you are gathered, part of devotional is you sharing something you learn from your studies that morning. Notice what needs to take place for this to happen.
- You are reading from something worth sharing from every morning.
- You are pulling great ideas, principles, and quotes.
- You need to be remembering them to share or better yet, writing them down!
Talk about compound interest! You are learning and growing and showing and teaching your children how to do the same.
To make it easier for smaller kids, you can talk about books as you read them together.
Have them see you doing good habits
But what about activities or habits that they don’t see. Like personal scripture study or maybe you workout while they are sleeping, at school, or otherwise. Same thing. TALK about it! Talk about what you read that morning in your scripture study or what your workout was that afternoon. Because if they don’t see you doing something then it doesn’t happen! They are completely oblivious.
This idea of talking about things you want pointed out works great for a multitude of other traits. Point out how great it feels in a room after you have cleaned it together. Point out how well they played together after apologizing rather than fighting. How good your body feels after eating a clean meal. Or even how terrible you feel after eating a bunch of candy if the case may be. Pointing out that you got angry but apologized. Or if you are better than me, pointing out that you are choosing not to get angry but to choose calmness.
The point is to talk about things that might be going through your mind or that you want them to notice. Pointing things out to children helps them be aware of things that otherwise they would be oblivious to.
Have them see you learning new things
In the great book, Nurtured by Love, the talented Suzuki explains how to get young children started in learning to play the violin. It doesn’t begin with how to hold the bow, how to take care of the strings or even looking at music. Nope, before the child touches a violin, the mother is the one that takes the lessons and learns to play!! The mother has to be able to play a piece before the child can have any lessons.
He does this to help inspire desire in the child. It doesn’t take long in seeing the mother play that the child will naturally come up and say “I want to play too.” This is SO important!! When it is the child that WANTS to do something then we don’t have to poke, prod, demand, cajole, or bribe. So let us set the example and inspire our children to learn new things and practice.
We all want our children to succeed. We try to get and give everything we can to help them to do so. But don’t forget the simplest, and sometimes are hardest to implement, way to help them succeed. To be the example and show them how to make and work on goals so that they can self improve and do great things. How to read from great books and gain insights and learn principles so that they will be lifelong learners. How to have good habits to make life more full, rich, and deep. How to learn new things and practice them.
Be willing to be vulnerable and show them struggles and failures so they know how to get back up and keep trying. If you want them to do these things, then you need to be willing to do these things. And what a better person to make the biggest impression than their parents. Lead out. Be the example.