Can you teach others to take initiative?

Did you think taking initiative is simple as 123? Think again! It is a work in progress to teach others to take initiative, if they were not born with “that gene.” Yet do not fret there are ways you can teach it to others!

take initiative

What does taking initiative even mean? To take initiative is usually to start something such as  a plan or action. If someone takes initiative it means they are usually the first ones doing that specific task. Sounds fun? It certainly isn’t for some people! Taking initiative might be difficult for many.

What are the obstacles to taking the initiative?

  • lack of self confidence
  • lack of know how

Most of the time a person is afraid of failure and ridicule resulting from lack of self confidence that does not allow them to be the start of a project, goal  or idea. We need to change this mindset to get others to take initiative.

Many people have great ideas yet they are afraid to share them so how can we get it heard? Of course, building self confidence will help but so will showing others how to take the initiative to get something started.

Showing children and adults how to step it up is easier said than done, though it certainly can make things much easier for you as a mom, teacher, educator or supervisor.

How can you get others to take initiative?

  1. Give others the tools. Break down tasks for them on a simple level.

    Child: ” There are no tissues in the bathroom”
    Mom: ” Do you know where we keep them?”
    Child: “Yes”
    Mom: “Can you reach them?”
    Child: “Yes”
    Mom: ” Can you please go get some and place them in the bathroom?”
    Child: “OK”
    Mom: “Thank you for your help, now next time you need some tissues you know where to find them.

    See how the task was broken up by making sure child knows what it is needed, knows where to find it, has the tools for retrieving it ( can reach it) and a push for the next time ( compliment).

  2. Model it– If you want others to learn, do it yourself the first time. It may sound weird yet it works! Talk out loud as you go about a task. ” Oh I see that next week there is a deadline, in order for us to meet it we must accomplish abcd….” or” I see the bathroom is lacking tissues that means I must go get some…”
  3. Take a step back– acknowledge the issue and let others step up. ” I see we need some tissues…”
  4. Compliment and Comment– If someone starts to take the initiative, compliment them for it fuels them to continue and wanting to do it more often. Do not say how it can be done better, believe me they will learn.

” Take the initiative by allowing others to take initiative”



Is it OK to lie to children?

Can we live at peace with ourselves when we lie to our children?

lying to children

I feel the question is loaded and deserves a loaded answer. Though all I will simply say – it depends. Yes, it really depends! When asking others when and for what reason they will lie to their kids the answers will vary.

There are many reasons why we lie, and they do not all fall into the same level of lying.

Why many of us lie to children:

  1. to protect our children
  2. to protect ourselves – it is easier to lie than to say the truth, not wanting to deal with the consequences of saying the truth ( tantrum)
  3. social/ polite lies- said to be “nice” or not hurt others.
  4. imaginary lies- lies that fuel that imagination not said to hurt others yet to create fantasy- (tooth fairy)

Lying hurts our children, and it hurts us as parents. It breaches the sacred trust our children have in adults and their caregivers. When children ” catch” a parent in a lie, it can cause them to lose their respect for that adult. Such as if you tell a child” if you do not leave the park with me now, I will leave you here for the night…” and they know it is not true causing  your words to have little effect on them. The reason you told the lie was to get them to listen yet you are undermining yourself. Rather if you tell them ” if we do not leave the park now we will not be able to visit for the next week..” and you follow up on the consequence your child will know your words are not empty nor a lie and they better listen if they want to visit the park again.

However, it gets complicating. When a child suffered a loss of a pet and wants to know where their beloved pet is. Your response should not be a lie either, it should reflect the age and the level of understanding of your child. Telling the truth will not hurt them as long as it is said appropriately. Gauge their reaction and if it is too much for them then stop. Telling them that their pet ran away or will come back another day will once again break your child’s trust.

Acceptable lies:

When lying to a child for imaginary reasons such as the tooth fairy it usually is acceptable. However it all depends on how you do it. Allow children to discover the truth when they are old enough to understand. When they start questioning you can ask them- ” what do you think?”. Let them discover the truth and do not deny it.

Lying for protection:

A child does not need to know the ins and outs of why mom and dad are divorcing but lying to a child the reason why is not acceptable, tell them what they need to know on their level. You do not need to explain nor tell the whole truth give them the basics. Children are easily perceptive and can easily smell something fishy, if you lie to them.

To compound our feelings of guilt when we lie, many parents justify their lying. There is never justification in lying! It is harmful! In addition, lying becomes habitual. Change the way you talk now and allow the truth to become a habit. It may be difficult at first and uncomfortable for it may seem much easier to lie, however if you continue to lie you will suffer its consequences! Such as children who lie or broken relationships and breached trust. Build your relationship with your children by telling them the truth.

“Telling the truth is an art,  an important skill to learn and master.”


Managing Children’s Behavior

How to Manage Children’s Behavior:

managing behavior by building strong homes

Children need consistency, rules and routines to flourish. In short, all they need is a stable environment.

It sounds simple, it might be simple however it takes some work to establish that. Let us take a look at the framework for a stable environment whether it is a classroom or home.

Managing children’s behavior by building strong homes and classrooms:

  1.  Routine:

Consistency helps children know what to expect and know your expectations of them.

example: bedtime should be consistent, classroom schedule should be consistent

  • Of course, there may be changes and a need to tweak your schedule however it is something that should not happen often, such as you came home late from work and dinner and bedtime is running late. It happens don’t fret yet make sure it does not happen too often.
  • Help children by giving them a time frame. If it is almost bedtime, let the child know, ” five more minutes to play and then we have to go to sleep”, if it is clean up time or lunch time give the children the opportunity to transition smoothly by reminding them: ” We have 2 more minutes to play, after we play we clean up and then we have lunch.” This feeds into the children’s structure and they know what to expect.

2. Rules:

In order to establish a smooth running home or classroom, rules must be in place. It may be difficult to enforce in the beginning yet you need to be consistent and stick to them!

Remind children of the rules if they break them so that they get into the habit of following your rules. I prefer if teachers do not teach the first few weeks in school and work on establishing their routines and rules for this will establish a smooth classroom, with everyone knowing the expectations of them and therefore cutting out possible frustration and anger in the future.

  • If you see the same rule is constantly broken check to see if your expectation is not too much and too hard for children to fulfill.
  • Remind the rule especially in the beginning of establishing the rule:” When we come home we hang up our coats.” ” Remember, when we go outside to play we wait on line for our turn on the swings.”

3. Warm and caring relationship with the children:

Children want to please adults whom they feel care for them. If a child feels you want the best for them they will look to make you happy.

4. Home/ School Alignment

All adults in the child’s life should have the same goals. Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, however the general rule of thumb is the child should know if teacher said something mom will agree and vice versa. This holds true for at home as well. If dad said something mom should stand by dad, even though she disagrees. When the child is not around the two parties can discuss it further, however in front of the child they should seem in agreement.

I call it the “run to mom” effect. Many children know that majority of times mom is softer than dad, and if they do not like something they can ” run to mom” to complain or reverse dads decision. However it is important for the child to know they cannot manipulate mom or dad to change their mind.

This is true in a classroom as well. If one teacher says no to something the child wants to do, the other adult in the room, whether it is an aide, assistant or co teacher should respect the first teachers decision even though they might disagree. They can always visit the subject at a later time without the child present.

This builds structure in the child’s life and they see that there are rules to follow.

 5. Expectations

It is very important to take into consideration that all children are different and learn differently. When deciding on rules and routine you must take into consideration that one child may have an easy time  complying while another will find it difficult. It is not because they want to act out, yet because they either cannot accomplish that task, cannot sit so long etc.. therefore when you set rules take each child’s need into consideration.

Just like when you set bedtime in your house children should have different time depending on their age for each age group requires a differnt amount of time for sleep. The same holds true in your classroom.

Remember: ” fair is not equal and equal is not fair.”

Do not get upset when a child broke a rule first see if it is something they can follow.

Example: you require children to hang up their coats when they enter your home/ classroom. This is a reasonable request however you always note that Johnny dumps his coat on the floor near the hooks. You reviewed the rules with him and constantly remind him to hang up his coat and you know that you have a warm relationship with him yet he is still not complying. After further investigation you realize the hooks are too high for him to reach. It is not that he wants to dump them and make you upset!

This is a general framework to give the children the foundation to meet your expectations and follow classroom or household rules. Although it is not a guarantee to always work, for the majority of the children it works. Some children may need additional intervention or assistance.

In addition, while this framework may help on a day to day basis children are people with emotions. They may have had a difficult day and may not follow your rules one day. It does not mean that they are out to disobey they just may need some more attention and care. As long as you are providing a stable environment you are giving the children the tools to thrive.

Special Education – is it us or them?

Are we labeling children for nothing?

I was just by a special education training session this morning. It was intriguing to hear the presenter’s  frustration at how we  often label a child as needy, disabled, ADHD, weak etc. without fully understanding the wide range of developmental stages that there are for each age group.

How can we label a child if we do not know if something is actually age appropriate for that child? The action may not be up to par with the rest of the class, however that does not mean that the child is necessarily weak. Every child grows at different levels and all learn differently. Their action may fall in the range of appropriate actions for that age group, even though you see it differently. A teacher must first learn what is expected of each age group without jumping to conclusions and then can seek appropriate assistance.

children in a box

Are we putting children in a box?

This scared me. I was left wondering if we are the ones whom label children with labels and they do not need to be labeled at all! Are we just labeling them because we do not have clear expectations of that specific age group, while the child may fall in an appropriate range of expectations?

Help! And to expound on her message the presenter gave each of the attendees a few scenarios and asked us to label them as to which age group we find that behavior appropriate for. None of the veteran teachers and educators got them all correct.

Majority of the workshop was based on early-childhood developmental guidelines. However the lesson was clear:

Never judge and label a child. Review and study expectations for that age group and do not jump to conclusions! 

as stated in the developmental guidelines-

“As one teacher explains, “Knowing about
development lets me slow down and
put aside my assumptions in order to see
children as individuals and pay attention
to where they are developmentally rather
than where I think they “should” be. “

Stop putting children in a box!