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The Meaning of Diligence
A job well done. A child taking an assigned task and accomplishing it to the very best of their ability. Perhaps a child hoping to purchase an item and working diligently to earn enough to make the purchase...no matter how long it takes.
Merriam-Webster defines diligence as a: “steady, earnest, and energetic effort.”
We Want our Children to be Diligent
We want our children to follow through and do their duties completely and thoroughly. We want them to take on a task and accomplish it to the best of their ability. Is the kitchen table spotless when they claim their job is done? Are you finding items crammed in closets and underneath beds during an inspection of a 'clean room'? Are you wishing your children put the same diligent effort into the task at hand as they do when playing with their toys and legos?
We must provide endless guidance and training until our children understand and can handle a task on their own - all the while ensuring that our own lives are portraying the traits of diligence that we so desperately want for our children.
How to Instill Diligence
How do we instill diligence in our children? We must talk about the importance of giving our best effort in everything we do. Let your children know that it will not always be easy - but it is important to know you've always done your best. Allow them to practice and be sure to provide positive reinforcement along the way. Demonstrate, practice, repeat and provide positive reinforcement. Ironically, instilling diligence in our children begins with us being diligent in allowing for practical application and training.
I'll never forget being shown how to properly wipe down the kitchen table by my Grandfather (Pops). He demonstrated how to clean the table without any crumbs landing on the floor. Pops also made sure we knew how to sweep the floor and 'tap' the bristles on the floor so as not to spread dirt in the process. He was a perfectionist and I absolutely think of him anytime I'm sweeping crumbs into my hand from the kitchen table. He was demonstrating diligence and I want to make sure to pass that on to my children as well.
Practical Application through Wholesome Books
Reading books to our children with wholesome character traits is such an excellent way to show practical applications through stories! The Snipp, Snapp, Snurr Collection is a 7-book set of wholesome stories following triplet boys on their adventures set in Sweden. Three of these stories demonstrate diligence:
Snipp, Snapp, Snurr and the Big Surprise
When Mother leaves to visit an old friend, Snipp, Snapp and Snurr decide to plan a big surprise for her return.
With Nanny's help they decide to get her a new chair. Since they don’t have any money, they earn the chair by working for all the people who help make it.
Mother is so thrilled when she sees her fantastic surprise!
Snipp, Snapp, Snurr and the Red Shoes
One day the three boys decided to buy their mother the perfect birthday present―a pair of red shoes.
They set out to earn some money. Snipp painted a fence; Snapp cleaned a chimney; and Snurr worked in a flour mill.
Things did not go exactly as planned, but in the end, Mother was very surprised!
Snipp, Snapp, Snurr and the Yellow Sled
One their way home from school one day, the boys saw a wonderful yellow sled in a shop window.
The next day, they started doing a lot of extra work around the house so they could earn it. The boys soon earned enough money.
But when they arrived at the shop, they found a sad little boy whose family could not afford a sled. So Snipp, Snapp, and Snurr thought of a wonderful surprise.
Flicka, Ricka, Dicka go to Market
Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka are three sisters who live in Sweden. They have blonde hair and blue eyes and look very much alike.
After the family moves to the country, the girls realize they need bicycles to ride to school. To earn money for bicycles, they decide to plant vegetables to sell at the market.
They work hard choosing seeds, planting, weeding, and watering, and although at first they are shy at the noisy marketplace, soon they are selling too many vegetables to think about themselves!
The Flicka, Ricka, Dicka Collection includes 7-hardcover books following triplet girls on their adventures.
A Lesson from Booker T. Washington
Diligence proved to be a vital attribute in Booker T. Washinton's life. Born a slave and prohibited from attending school, Booker set out determined to learn to read and one day attend college.
He became a houseboy for Viola Ruffner in 1871. She was a stickler for cleanliness, hard work and perfection and instilled this work ethic and extreme diligence in Booker.
Thirty years later he stated, "the lessons that I learned in the home of Mrs. Ruffner were as valuable to me as any education I have ever gotten anywhere since."
These character traits proved beneficial to him when, in the autumn of 1872, at the age of 16, he set out on the 400-mile journey to Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute. Begging rides and traveling much of the way on foot, Booker arrived penniless in Richmond, 80 miles short of his destination. He worked there for several days to earn money to continue his trip - sleeping under the boardwalk.
Booker was so dirty, ragged and without money upon reaching Hampton that the head teacher refused to admit him. When he persisted, she finally asked him to sweep one of the classroom floors. Recalling his training at the hands of Mrs. Ruffner, Booker not only swept the floor - he dusted and made sure every inch of the classroom was spotless.
Booker later stated, "I had the feeling that in a large measure my future depended upon the impression I made upon the teacher in the cleaning of that room. . . . When she was unable to find one bit of dirt on the floor, or a particle of dust on any of the furniture, she quietly remarked, "I guess you will do to enter this institution."
Capturing Opportunities to instill Diligence in our Children
The next time your sweet children complain about a task or do a haphazard job, remember Booker T. Washington! What would've happened if he had done a poor job of sweeping that classroom?
Let's be sure and take the time to demonstrate, practice, repeat and provide positive reinforcement as we instill this highly valuable trait of diligence in our children. Also, be sure to stock your library with wholesome books portraying diligent children in practical life stories. There can be nothing sweeter than watching the fruits of your labor pay off as your children grow.
Excerpts for the story on Booker T. Washington taken from: