“Success depends in a very large measure upon individual initiative and exertion, and cannot be achieved except by a dint of hard work.”
– Anna Pavlova
At Athlos schools, we teach children the importance of 12 traits that we call Performance Character traits. Our Performance Character pillar recognizes the deep connection between these character traits and success. The development of Performance Character is integrated into every learning opportunity, allowing students to experience this connection first hand. Traits like leadership, integrity, courage, and optimism become a lens through which students view their learning as about more than grades, but as learning for life.
Like all important lessons, reinforcing learning at home is a key factor to success. One of the best ways for parents to do this is to positively model the traits at home and to encourage trait development. In our 12-part ‘Performance Character at Home’ blog series, we offer some simple, yet effective ways, to support children’s Performance Character development. In this blog, we look at initiative.
What is initiative?
Athlos defines initiative as: Taking action to help ourselves and others without being asked.
Why is initiative important?
Learning to take initiative is a key component to the development of every other Performance Character trait. It requires courage to take initiative. Stepping out into the unknown necessitates a bit of grit. Learning how to tactfully act requires well-tuned social intelligence. Ultimately, without initiative, there is very little learning; and without learning, there is no opportunity for growth and positive change.
How can I help my child develop initiative?
Reinforcing initiative at home can be as easy as enabling your child to accomplish tasks for themselves.
- Instead of always pouring your child a drink, encourage them to take the initiative to do it themselves, even if that means pushing a chair up to the counter to reach the cupboard. As you can imagine, this may result in some foreseen messes and not-so-perfect outcomes, so praise your child’s effort instead of the result. This will help build their self-confidence and inspire them to try again.
- Be intentional about giving your child opportunities to think about what needs to be done, without telling them what needs to be done. For example, ten minutes before bedtime ask your child, “What do you think you need to do to be ready for bed?” Taking a step back and encouraging your child to think of what needs to be done helps them learn to notice these things themselves.
- Have a trait conversation with your child about the role that initiative plays in their school day, asking questions like:
- How did you show initiative today?
- How was initiative important during your classroom instruction or on the turf?
- How could you show initiative at school, at home, etc.?