By Michelle Lazurek, Crosswalk.com
The younger generations have it easier today than their parents had when they were growing up, at least in some ways. With more disposable income than ever, kids sometimes lack an appreciation for the possessions they own, especially at a younger age.
Parents can combat this by allowing kids to learn the importance of working hard and earning what they want to buy. This starts with having a healthy respect for what they own by picking up after themselves and cleaning up their own messes. But why should we prioritize teaching them this important life skill in today’s age?
Here are seven reasons kids should learn to pick up after themselves:
It teaches them responsibility.
The most important concept picking up after themselves teaches children is that their stuff is just that: their stuff. Kids need to take responsibility for what is theirs in life. If they make a mistake, they must take responsibility, apologize and seek to rectify the situation. Taking ownership of their items can help teach them this responsibility. When kids learn to take care of their stuff, the more readily they will be able to take care of their thoughts and actions, shaping them into well adjusted, mature adults.
It teaches them to honor authority.
The idea to pick up after themselves is not innate, it’s a learned behavior. Children become well-adjusted adults by having parents who help them get there. In this world though, it is easier for a parent to just do it themselves instead of having to remind a child time and time again. However, doing the hard work of enforcing rules and establishing structure helps a child understand that there is someone above them who makes—and keeps—the rules.
Romans says, “All of you must obey those who rule over you. There are no authorities except the ones God has chosen. Those who now rule have been chosen by God. So, whoever opposes the authorities opposes leaders whom God has appointed.” In this world where the common sentiment is to question or rebel against authority, Romans provides a different perspective on authority. God has appointed those above you, whether it is in government, the church or your home. When kids can learn to respect you, they can easily respect their boss at work, the government and their pastor.
It helps them grow into adults.
Kids who pick up after themselves now will grow into adults who will naturally teach their children to do the same. It might be easier to do it yourself, but you are doing the hard work of teaching them life skills that will bode well for them once they leave the nest.
While it’s true that kids need to enjoy being kids, part of their job is to explore their world and interact with it in such a way that they will make a positive impact on it in the future. A simple act of picking up after themselves helps children realize life is not all about them. The world needs them to respect the world, so it can still be around for them when they are raising their own children.
It instills a strong work ethic.
Colossians 3:23-24 says, "Whatever you do, work at it with your whole being, for the Lord and not for men, because you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as your reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.…”
It is tough to teach kids the importance of working hard and earning what you want in life, rather than waiting with outstretched hand waiting for someone to hand it to you. Yet, with every act of picking up and caring for their own belongings, you are instilling how to work hard and respect the value of a dollar. The old adage that money doesn’t grow on trees applies here. Teaching a child to make good choices in money will eventually translate to making good choices in life, which is every parent’s desire for their children.
It levels the playing field.
My kids have had a bad case of sibling rivalry since they were babies. Each of my children constantly tried to direct my husband’s and my attention to them, especially if we were paying attention to their sibling. As teens, they now try to tear each other down by proving how smart one is over the other, assuming a superior attitude towards others. When kids pick up after themselves, it strips away the perception that they are above menial tasks like chores. Any type of chores helps kids see themselves with sober judgment, understanding that in order for a family to function well, they must learn to clean up their own mess.
It reduces pride.
When my house is a mess, I often feel like the maid, picking up other people’s messes and putting their possessions in their proper places. When kids do it, however, they don’t feel like they have a built-in maid in the house. They are responsible for the messes they make. Much like life, they are responsible for everything (including their possessions) they own. Not only does it reduce pride for them, it helps not to contribute to my feelings of worth as their mother. When they take care of their things without having to be asked, I feel like they value me as more than just their mother—they value me as a person.
It teaches them to value money.
Money is tight in our home. Living on one income is not easy to live on in this dual income society. Therefore, my kids have to earn the money they want for extra activities and events. We have taught our kids the importance of having an allowance and working for money through chores.
Jesus spoke a lot about money to people. This means Jesus valued money as well. It is my responsibility to teach my kids about the how to treat money as a necessary tool in life, but not something to obsess over. I want my kids to know money will not just be doled out on a whim. Sometimes my kids have to make choices if they have two or more items they want to buy. By earning money rather than being given it freely, they learn that money is important to their lives, and shouldn’t be treated lightly.
Parenting is hard. But one of the hardest parts of parenting is to teach kids life skills that will help influence them into becoming adults that can, in turn, take care of their children. One of the best things you can do is stop doing things for your kids and instead teach them to do things for themselves. The rewards may not be immediate, but in a few years, you will look back and see you impacted your kids’ lives in ways you never expected.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Choreograph
Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award winning author, speaker, writing coach, pastor's wife and mother. As a literary agent for Wordwise Media services, she is a sought after workshop presenter at popular writers' conferences like She Speaks and Greater Philly Christian Writers conference. Please visit her website at michellelazurek.com.