Trying to teach the virtue of diligence to Emily has been one of the more difficult tasks I’ve attempted to do. As she gets older, I can see that her lack of diligence is seriously holding her back in the areas of both academics and life skills.
Diligence comes pretty naturally to me. I’m a rule follower. I don’t want to disappoint people. I’m a list maker. I like the feeling of having a job completed, and completed well. All of these qualities motivate me to work diligently. Some of my children are like me, and have been responsible and internally motivated.
Emily, on the other hand, not so much! She tends to avoid tasks that are difficult. She wanders off in the middle of an assignment to “take a break” and may or may not come back to it. I don’t think she looks to the end result and is willing to work hard to achieve a goal. It is frustrating, because she is very different from me and it is often difficult for me to understand what motivates her. Yet I know that developing the ability to stick with a difficult or unpleasant task until it is completed is a necessary part of life.
Some things I have tried (with varying success) to encourage better habits are:
- Making lists for her to check off as she completes tasks
- Rewards when tasks or milestones are accomplished
- Praise when I see her working hard
- Talking with her about the long-term advantages of diligence
- Looking for opportunities for her to work for others—She loves the attention she gets for being a “hard worker” for other people!
- Pointing out examples of others being diligent…or not
Do you have this issue with your kids? Do you have any words of advice for me?