Getting Your Kids To Stop Being Selfish and Take Some Initiative

There are times in your world of parenting that your kids amaze you and you can’t believe how well they can take some initiative and how eager they are to do it. But there are also times when you feel like your head is going to explode as you try and figure out how they can be so blind to the world around them and so selfish. You know those moments. There are times one of the kids takes the initiative and does something really cool for another person? Holding a door, unloading the dishwasher or eagerly willing to learn how to cut the lawn. Or there’s that other moment—you ask for a favor and instead of a willing heart and a smiling face, you are met with weeping and gnashing of teeth.

It’s literally a moment to moment thing. And it drives us crazy. What’s the secret formula? How do I get my kid to always think of others, to take the initiative to see what ought to be done, who ought to be helped out and just do? The mere thought of reminding our kids one more time to pay attention, to do the right thing, to stop being selfish just might push us over the edge. 

But they are our kids. We love them. We coach them. We find levels of patience and persistence others can only read about in fairy tales. But wouldn’t it be nice if these supernatural abilities were just a tad bit more natural? 

Here are some thoughts that might help. 

Expect the Fail and Celebrate the Win

Yes, I know. Expecting our kids to fail seems a bit harsh—maybe even mean. Hang with me for a second though. Our kids are learning. They are sinners. They are going to mess up…a lot. And that’s okay. Getting it wrong and learning is a better teacher than getting it right because you got lucky. Getting it wrong gives you the opportunity as teacher and coach to teach valuable lessons through the failure. So when they do get it right, you can celebrate the win and your kids can savor the victory. 

Teach Them to See

It’s that sin nature thing again coming back to haunt all of us. When your kid does something really dumb and you ask the all important question, “Why did you do that?” What’s their response? “I don’t know.” Such a lame response! Come on! But the truth is, they really don’t know! Because they aren’t seeing the situation—the whole world in fact—the way you do. You have to teach them how to see and what they ought to be looking for. This is where building a house that is centered on Jesus becomes really practical—teaching our kids to see what needs to be done and doing it. Teaching our kids to be Jesus-centered is, in part, teaching them to take the initiative. 

DIY Disciple-Making Moments

Building the right kind of foundation that builds a strong faith and a family centered on Jesus requires that we build the right kind of habits. And for our kids, it’s the little things of everyday life that matter most. It’s about what we see, how we respond, how we treat others, and how we show God’s love to those around us. These are simple conversations we can all have throughout our day that will continually point our kids to Jesus in a very real and tangible way. So don’t wait for the moments to come. Don’t wait for the next Sunday, the next youth group night, or small group meeting. Look into every moment and find the disciple-making lesson in it. It’s in there, I promise. 

A good coach or teacher comes to each practice or class with a plan. They know what they want to accomplish, the general idea of how that’s going to happen, and what defines success. Imagine what discipleship could look like if we approached it the same way? Getting our kids to take the initiative—to see what needs to be done and getting it done is a huge step in discovering what it means to follow Him and putting Him at the center of everything. 

Published by stevenmkozak

Steve has been an experienced and dedicated youth ministry and non-profit leader for more than 15 years. Steve has taught in the classroom, local church, and parachurch organizations. Steve holds a masters degree in theology from Moody Theological Seminary and a masters in Christian apologetics from Biola University. He speaks and writes on youth ministry, youth culture and apologetics. He resides in northern Indiana with his wife and four children.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: