photo by Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We sat our kids down last week and had a talk about the value this month, “Unselfishness and Sensitivity”. We talked about what it means to be sensitive– stopping to think of how others feel. We used different story scenarios to illustrate this point. Our kids caught on quickly and we felt confident that they understood this new word.

As I read over the article that Linda Eyre had written for this month’s value I realized that I really wanted to strengthen and more fully develop the ability to “actively listen”.

The Active Listening technique (I read in an article at Power to Change) is really an extension of the Golden Rule. To know how to listen to someone else, think about how you would want to be listened to. This article also included 10 tips to help develop this valuable skill. As I have stopped to listen more fully, especially this past week, I have found how powerful this simple concept is. My teenage son opens up to me more often and deeply. My love for and connection with him has strengthened. All my children are feeling more validated and I am learning more about each one by practicing this skill. I know I am showing more sensitivity to them when I actively listen to the ideas and thoughts they want to share with me and have always felt that in helping our children to learn and develop principles and values in their lives, modeling those very ideas is the first best step.

Not enough can be said about giving kids responsibility. There have been different times in the past when I have lifted responsibilities from my children thinking either that their lives were too full and busy or that I didn’t want to expect too much from them. What I have learned from these attitudes is that responsibility is KEY to many aspects of a child’s development and that they are much more appreciative of the things I do or others do for them when they are doing more for themselves as well as contributing in a helpful way to our home and family. One more recent example is when I started a kitchen duty chart. I found myself being the designated kitchen cleanup person and I was getting tired of feeling like I was spending so much time in this room! Also, a great deal of the time, I was unable to finish right away and so dishes would sit in the sink or food stayed out on the counters etc. I sat down and wrote out all the things that I felt needed to be done after each meal in order to keep our kitchen tidy. The family was called and we discussed my new list and a new rule was put into place:

No one leaves the kitchen until everything on the list is checked off!

Wow! The results have been super! It only takes us about 15 minutes to get everything cleaned up. What I didn’t expect was that the kids have even reached beyond the list: when the vacuum is out to do the floor, they quickly run it through the living room; and the clutter pick-up has also included the living room. Our house is staying so much cleaner. The bonus part is that by sharing this responsibility with my kids I have noticed how much more they have shown appreciation to me and each other and their attitude in general has become more respectful! That’s a perk I wasn’t even planning on. So I have to agree wholeheartedly with Linda Eyre, in this month’s introduction to the value article, that giving children responsibility does foster an attitude of appreciation and empathy which are key components of developing more sensitivity.

This Sunday I will be introducing a new activity to my family, “Bake and Take Sunday”. I am going to spend some time once or twice a month after we attend our church services to bake something with my family and then take turns selecting someone in our neighborhood that we want to share our goodies with that week. I want my children to be more aware of our neighbors around us and their own special needs and provide away we can bring some joy to someone else.

I’m sure many of you have had similar results when giving your children responsibilities, job charts etc. If you would like to share your ideas or experiences with your younger children or even with your teens, I’d love to hear them!

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