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{Guest Post} Teaching Children to Work Hard and Problem Solve

10 more days til I have internet!  Although I have kind of enjoyed the lack of online distractions, a blogger has to have her internet!  I have to use my phone as a hotspot to connect to the web and it eats my data up.  How is a blogger to survive?! Haha 😉

Today, I want to introduce you to Arabah.  You must go visit her beautiful blog  She is an international missionary and when you read the words on her blog, you can see the love she has for her Savior.  Thank you for being here today Arabah!

Teaching Children to Problem Solve


I recently read Kay Wyma‘s book, Cleaning House. In the book, Kay talks about her children’s sense of entitlement and lack of life skills and describes her year long experiment to rid her home of the entitlement attitude.

When I read how Kay assigned her kids different days of the week to cook dinner, it didn’t take much to convince me to give the idea a go in my own home. With four kids aged 4 to 11, I was pretty pumped. So I printed off a handy little menu planner, called a family meeting, and explained to the kids that for the summer, each child would be responsible for planning, cooking, and cleaning up after one dinner a week.

Every mother’s dream, yes?

Boy was I excited. Sure, the first few weeks would require heavy assistance on my part, especially for the youngest. But the long term results were promising beyond measure.

The first week, the kids planned pizza and veggies, blueberry pancakes and fruit salad, spaghetti, and pasta salad. And they couldn’t wait to begin!

What I didn’t anticipate was how this one change in our family would affect my children’s ability to problem solve. The first night, my daughter ran out of an ingredient. She was flustered and exasperated. I realized how little practice my children have at dealing with crisis. After all, we live modern lives where all our needs are met.

Interestingly enough, problems and obstacles are some of the best ways to teach us how to persevere, be creative, discover our strengths, and invent new solutions. For a child, the job of planning and cooking a meal provides ample opportunity for failure and problem solving, not to mention good ol’ fashioned hard work. Egg shells in the batter, burnt bread, not enough of something… all these small problems become opportunities for children to learn not only skills, but attitudes.

We are still working on our cooking skills, but I can tell you this is one of the best parenting choices I have ever made. {And not just because I’ll have personal chefs four nights of the week soon.}

I have other tasks to teach my kids as well, including planning and hosting a party and organizing a service project. And undoubtedly, the benefits will be as varied as they are surprising. Interested in implementing something similar in your home? Here are four simple steps to get you started!

The System:

1. Make a list of goals you’d like to set for your kids. Then list them in the order you’d like to carry them out.


1. Have each child plan, cook, and clean up after one dinner each week.

2. Have each child be able to wash, dry, and fold laundry

2. Set up the incentive


Kay gives each child a money jar each month, with 31 dollar bills in it. If a task is not completed satisfactorily, she removes money from the jar. Whatever is left at the end of the month, the child gets to keep. See how some delayed gratification is worked in there? Note: $31 bucks per kid is too steep for me, so I use quarters.

3. Try tackling one skill or task a month. Don’t do too much at once.

4. Be consistent. Do it with another mom if you need accountability or set up your own reward system if that helps. Or pop over to my blog where I’ll be documenting our progress and inviting you to join in as well!

Now you’re ready! Let us know in the comments what skill you are tackling first!

Bio: Arabah Joy is wife to Jackson and mom to four energetic little ones. She and her family live nomadic lives as international missionaries. She has authored several books, including Energy Explosion: A 7 Day Guide to Jumpstart Your Energy and welcomes you to connect with her at



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