The 7 Habits of Happy Kids

Recently, it occurred to me that the paradigms and practices of The Leader in Me can also be used at home. In fact, they work really well. I started by reviewing the paradigms of The Leader in Me Framework through the lens of a husband and father. Am I seeing the greatness and genius in each of my children? Am I developing their whole person? Am I making changes myself before asking others to change? As parents, are my wife and I empowering our kids enough, or are we trying to control them too much? As I reviewed each of the paradigms, I quickly realized that I have a ways to go. I then began to look at The Leader in Me practices and how I could also apply them in the home. I got really excited when I did this because I saw a lot of new opportunities. So here are some of the ideas I’m going to work on this summer:

A Common Language. Even though I am Stephen Covey’s son and an author of a few 7 Habits books myself, it is clear that my kids don’t know the key concepts underlying the 7 Habits like they should. For example, I should use the concept of Circle of Influence® when my 13-year-old son is upset over something he can’t change, Big Rocks when my 8-year-old boy needs to choose between activities, and 3rd Alternative when my wife and I disagree in front of the kids. We could do so much more with this idea of a common language. What an opportunity!

Leadership Roles. Clearly, we can empower our kids to play a greater role in running our home. They all have jobs, but we really haven’t paid the price to think through some leadership roles they could take on that utilize their individual strengths. For example, my son loves cars. Would he like the leadership role of keeping our cars clean? I can’t wait to give it a try. Leadership Notebooks. I want to do more to help my kids set and track individual goals and be their Accountability Partner. What do they want to accomplish this summer? I can help them write Wildly Important Goals® (X to Y by When) and create plans to be reach their goals.

Leadership Environment. My three boys all share the same room, and it doesn’t look so good in there. It’s untidy and the walls are bare. So why not have them do what we ask Leader in Me Schools to do? Why not have them decorate their own bedroom with what they want their space to say about them? I will act as their assistant but will let them decide what to do. This should get really interesting.

Student-Led Conferences. I try to have monthly one-on-one time with each of my kids where we can have some fun and also catch up on their plans and goals, but I need to be more consistent. For example, I recently signed up my daughter, Allie, for art lessons, at her request. So I’m going to plan a one-on-one art night where we can review all of her artwork and where she can also report on how she is doing with her art goals.

Leadership Events. What is the equivalent of Leadership Events in the home? Well, I think it might be family traditions. So this summer I’m going to ask my kids what family traditions they most enjoy, as well as try to invent some new ones. I currently have four kids at home ranging from 8–17 so it’s difficult to get together as a family. There is always a party to attend, a friend coming over, or a game that can’t be missed. I’m sure you can relate. And then there’s social media. A few Saturdays ago, I was so frustrated at how hard it was to get everyone together that I announced that we were having what I called “forced family fun” that evening. We were going to drive to the mountains and go hiking, fish, shoot BB guns—and have fun doing it, whether they liked it or not. No phones allowed. Dinner included. Well, against everyone’s desires, that night we had our forced family fun. After about 30 minutes of complaining, we had the greatest time in the mountains, hiking to the waterfall, catching a whole bunch of brook trout in the stream, and shooting our Red Rider BB guns. And no one shot their eye out! We had a riot! And we were together! So I’m thinking that forced family fun may be one of our new events or traditions. Parenting is complex and challenging. There are no right answers. But if we work at it and apply some of the paradigms and practices of The Leader in Me adapted for the home, we can create a healthy family culture and help our children become all they were meant to be.

Warm regards,
Sean Covey