A reader is not always a leader, but a leader is always a reader.
- David Gergen

How do you get kids to read? You read to them or with them.

How do you teach values, standards and leadership? You talk with them, not to them.

How do you get them to talk? Children, no matter what age group, will not be open to lecturing, shaming or blaming. The best dialogs come from unexpected conversations and relaxed visiting.

Breakfast with a Book

Our daughter’s family came up with a unique strategy to overcome early morning struggles of getting children up, dressed, fed and off to school with a good attitude. They started setting out cereal in bowls the night before and then gathering at the table at 7AM to share breakfast and 15 minutes of reading.

While the children ate, Bethany read a chapter or selection of a book, like The Book of Virtues. If there was time for discussion, they shared opinions and thoughts. If not, they knew they would have an opportunity to talk about it over dinner.

Assuming Personal Responsibility

This group decision to have Mom make some toast, set out the milk and banana and then start reading at exactly 7AM, meant everyone had to assume personal responsibility to get up, get organized and get to the table on time.

It meant fewer arguments, whining and waiting for someone else to find the backpack. The children recognized that if they chose to use the time looking for a paper, then they would miss the reading. It took a few mornings of missing the reading, for even the slowest to get organized the night before and be on time.

Talk About it Over Dinner

Open and calm discussion each evening over dinner, will shape the character and confidence of every child. Knowing that they are allowed to think out loud and share an opinion or ask questions, without being criticized is the best path to critical thinking.

Because the parents have formed opinions on many subjects, the tendency is to say “In our family we think this way.” However, that does not allow the child to learn to think for themselves and analysis various options.

It is better to use the old selling technique of feel, felt and found “I now how you feel about that, I felt that way myself but I found that when you tell a small lie, it always grows and you have to think about what you are saying. I have found it easier to just decide to tell the truth.”

This gives the parents an opportunity to talk about how they came to embrace their own beliefs and reinforce the reasons why they made the choices they did.

Why the Book can teach the Lesson

With this decision to read over breakfast, Bethany and her husband were surprised to find how the thought processes of each child differed. They also discovered that the children were more apt to adopt a virtue if they could hear a story and then work through it’s applications to them personally. Talking about the moral helped reinforce the concepts in the minds of the whole family.

Win-Win Project

Did this project always work and were they able to sustain the idea long term? Yes, it worked and the whole family loved it and the applications of taking an idea and really discussing it. No, they were not able to sustain it long term, because they are human. Humans get busy, stressed and fall back into old patterns.

They did get through The Book of Virtues, which is very thick with stories, but it took a few tries and new beginnings. Then early morning classes, lost shoes and meltdowns and different schedules over ruled the practice of A Book with Breakfast.

They are going to keep trying, because it was a win-win for everybody.

Author's Bio: 

I would like to invite you to join our online community of like minded, kind and caring people who want to support one another and encourage the children in our circle of influence. I am looking forward to building a relationship based on respect and mutually beneficial projects. How about you?

ArtichokePress.com: Main site for books, workshops and speaking
AskAuntieArtichoke.com: Relationship and communication blog
Tweet me on Twitter
Friend me on Facebook
Blog Talk Radio my 15 minutes of fame every Thursday morning. It is a fun listen and would love to have you join me