I’ve been writing about TRAINING AHEAD – meaning training your child BEFORE they are expected to do something. This involves YOU teaching them by talking in a calm adult voice (not baby-talk), at their eye level, with clear communication, and letting THEM HOLD whatever ITEM there is so that they are DOING whatever thing you are teaching them. (Not YOU telling them how and YOU doing it, then leaving them to do it on their own.)

Most parents wait farrrrrr too long to begin teaching their children how to help.

Let’s start with one of the early chores that can be taught – UNLOADING THE DISHWASHER.

Look at this picture. John is 6; Alexis is 3.


I hope you’re still reading.. I realize having a child ON the counter-top may have scared you a little.  No worries. This was supervised and how else can HE reach the cabinet to put the glasses away? I could help him or steady him each and every time, but that’s NOT the ultimate goal here – independence is, as well as INITIATIVE to see the need and do it without being told.  He had been taught how to safely climb onto and off of the chair and the countertop. He had also been taught to think ahead – and put the items that go in that cabinet onto the countertop BEFORE climbing up  (and the why behind that so he can think on his own.)

Alexis is putting silverware away. She, too, was taught the safety in climbing along with how to properly sort the silverware and put into the right compartments. (This is a great skill! Some adults struggle with putting LIKE things together!)

Here’s a sample dialogue of how this might go:

Hold up a small and a large fork, for example and ask, “What are both of these?” and then “What is the difference?” and then “So, where does this one go?” .. “and this one?”  and LET THEM HOLD THE ITEM and DO the placement of the item.

You will also show them a KNIFE – yes, a KNIFE… and talk with them about the dangerous side that cuts and how to hold it safely and how to place it in the drawer as well – or the knife rack thing.

See? You’re showing RESPECT to your child in this process by TEACHING them a skill thoroughly, TRUSTING  them to do it. And..great news… INITIATIVE happens when a child understands, is well-trained, understands the dynamics of how this plays in a home running effectively,understands how to identify the need before being told,  and feels confident in meeting the need.

SELF-CHECK on your expectations: are you  a PERFECTIONIST? 

For example, your child needs to SORT the silverware properly into the drawer, recognizing differences in large and small spoons and forks, but does it REALLY matter if the forks within each compartment are PERFECTLY stacked? Or, is the goal met when they have properly sorted and placed them within the separate sections.


Rhonda INITIATIVEcan’thappenwithoutSKILLS ellis




  1. Shelby

    Rhonda – did you ever give your children an allowance for completing their chores? Or was it always something that was just expected of them to do? I have an almost six year old…so was starting to think along those lines…thanks!

    • Rhonda

      HI Shelby, We have done different things regarding allowance over the years. As far as doing chores and helping out, it’s just always been expected… as is obeying with sweet spirit… However, we haven’t always given allowance. When we have done allowance, we have found it effective to tie in what we see the priorities are at that time. For example, there was a season when allowance was based on a week of consistently making bed, room cleaned, so many pages read in a book (or book read each day for x minutes), scripture memory of x, chores done..

      Like I said, that list changed according to things we wanted to MAKE HAPPEN more consistently (to help us in accomplishing the goals we wanted for them,)

      Another thing that has been effective for us is.. RIGHT when they were paid allowance (which often was their age, but that has also varied) they each had their “money box” in front of them with a pen that stayed inside of it and three envelopes (or clear sandwich bags). We would give them their allowance and they would immediately put 10 % in “tithe,” 10% in “save” envelop, and 10% in “give” (or whatever percentage you want). We were intentional to work towards things to save for as well as giving opportunities. SOmetimes we would just take our GIVE envelope and anonymously pay for someone at a restaurant or pray and ask the Lord to show us who to give it to.

      Hope that helps. KEY: continue to pray and ask the Lord for His guidance during their upbringing… He continues to be faithful to give ideas based on where we are in parenting.

      A child should not EVER think their work is directly related to being paid in such a way that they think they shouldn’t work if NOT being paid. They should understand all family members just help.. wherever needed…looking for ways to lighten each other’s load to make the home comfortable, clean, and run efficiently.

  2. Jenifer T.

    I recognize that kitchen and those little kids. 🙂

    • Rhonda

      Jenifer, HELLO! You remember well because you helped me! I still remember how you babysat our FOUR little children when you were like 13 years old. You also made homemade muffins. I was so impressed. I called your mom to brag on you the next day. WOW! And look at you now -with a heap of your own children. Your mom was a mentor in my life! Just thought I’d let you know that. Love you!

      • Jenifer T.

        Right now I have 2 boys and 4 girls like you, which made me chuckle when I realized it. 🙂

        I’ve been enjoying reading your posts as a reminder and an encouragement to actively apply all those things I know to do but can let slide so easily in the craziness of life.

        • Rhonda

          That is amazing to me! Well, I know you are an incredible mom. Speaking of moms- YOUR mom taught me so much. I am thankful to have learned a lot from her and many in her circle of friends. 🙂

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