Written by Bethany Todd, in Collaboration with Laura Barr
Commitment is a value; it means being dedicated, not quitting. In Jessica Lahney’s book, The Gift of Failure, she states that parents tend to shelter children from failure, thereby leaving them unprepared for when they actually do fail. Parents often allow children to quit when things don’t feel “comfortable”, when things get hard, or when its too much for the already jam-packed schedule. When parents hear their children begin to resist something, they are often quick to say, “Well, you don’t have to do it.” But, maybe without realizing it, this leanuit attitude is teaching children that it’s okay to quit and to not honor their commitments.
Teaching children how to be committed takes practice and patience, and sometimes braving through those “I don’t want to!” tantrums. In order to teach our children the value of commitment, we have to allow them to see that failure is okay. They need to learn to have a “stick-with-it” attitude, and that commitment is something to be honored, respected, and upheld.
Why Teach our Children Commitment?
It is important to teach our children the value of commitment because you’re raising children to become adults. Adults have responsibilities and being responsible requires follow through. Life isn’t always fun and games. We have to teach our children to keep going when things get hard, to stick it out and persevere.
6 Things you can do to teach your children commitment:
- Give children opportunities to commit to something
- Stop the complaining, whining, and procrastinating
- Have a conversation about commitment and responsibility, again and again and again
- Tough it out…don’t quit.
- Give examples from your life.
- Read books about great people that committed to something. Imagine how things would have been if they had quit when things got hard.
Bette Davis said, “If you have never been hated by your child you have never been a parent.” I believe this because I believe that my job is not to be my child’s friend, but to be his guide, mentor, and teacher for handling the challenges of life. If I don’t, then who will?
It’s not easy to teach children commitment, but it’s important to remember that we are raising our children to become responsible adults, not to just be happy in the moment. Consider what tools children need as they grow older, and be aware that these tools are not innate- they must be taught.
Click here to learn practical ways to teach children commitment.