Thursday, December 2, 2010
The Importance of Teaching Children About Commitment
For the past 7 years I have been volunteering my time as a Girl Scout leader.
Throughout those seven years, I forged bonds with a total of 20 girls. One year I had 16 girls to lead. Of course, as they get older and their interests change, we start losing them. Volunteerism and service projects tend to start taking center stage instead of fun "me" activities, and we lose some of them because they feel it just isn't "fun" for them anymore. It takes a special kind of girl to see that their altruistic efforts can be even more rewarding than partaking in a cake decorating class. At this age we start to realize which of the girls are truly committed to what Girl Scouts is all about.
My "girls" are now in middle school. This has opened up a whole new chapter of socialization opportunities with not only children they knew from their home elementary school, but with others from neighboring schools they never interacted with before. It is all fun and exciting and at this age they want to do it all. At this age they also need to start understanding the need to prioritize their time. This is the perfect time for them to start keeping a calendar of their schedule and commitments.
As parents, it is our job to help guide them in the right direction in terms of determining which is more important. Does a dance, that is hosted once a month, take precedence over a scheduled meeting in which you are to put in volunteer hours at a local nursing home? At this age, it is all about them and fulfilling their wants and desires. They seldom think about how their decisions will affect others. It is our responsibility to gently remind them what can be the repercussions of the decisions they make. For example, is it fair to go to the dance when you already committed to make ornaments with the seniors who were looking forward to sharing your company at the nursing home on the same evening? Ultimately, they will decide which is more important to them, but it is important that we make them aware of what consequences will ensue to the broken commitment.
Teaching children at this age the importance of following through on their prior commitments, even when a more exciting one comes up, is a valuable lesson. It not only teaches them about the importance of making plans and following through, but it shows others around them that they are dependable and responsible. This is an extremely valuable asset to master before becoming adults. It is never too early to learn it.