How to Raise DIY Kids

How to Raise DIY Kids

Do you ever watch the news and see kids building robots, coding computers, or competing in sports and then wonder about your own kids—who are presently fighting over the television remote?

The award season at school is looming. Most kids won’t receive one. So why does it feel like your child was left out instead of you just realizing that they are normal?

Every child is different, but one thing most kids have in common is their great capacity to learn. I watch enough HGTV to make me believe I could take a sledgehammer to my bathroom and then create a spa-like retreat with heated floors. (I don’t own a sledgehammer . . . but I could get one.)

Your kids deserve to feel the same way. They have their entire lives in front of them, but they should be living that life today as well.

How to create creativity in your child

Parents magazine has a great article about “sparking” your child’s creative thinking. It’s worth reading, but I would sum up the entire article by saying: If you make your child’s creativity a high priority and an important time commitment, you will be surprised what your child can do.

The first verse in the Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Later in that chapter we read, “God created us in his own image” (Genesis 1:27). We were created, by the Creator, to be creative.  

It’s been more than thirty years since I taught second grade. Most of us teachers felt like one of the biggest problems we had was that the kids—and their parents—were too busy. As a result, kids didn’t have time to just make-believe and imagine.

Thirty years later, the kids I taught are now parents, and they are busier and more preoccupied than their parents were. (We didn’t have cell phones or the internet.)  

The first challenge to raising a creative, DIY child might be the time it will take to do that. But, what are kids doing now that matters more?

So, how do you create creativity in your child? Here is my quick list inspired by that article:

  • Don’t answer your kid’s questions. Guide your kids to answer their questions for themselves.
  • Play or talk with your kids and follow their path of thinking/imagining instead of having them follow yours.
  • Don’t hire to have the easy home repairs done. Get your kids involved, and do those repairs together.
  • Look up photography lessons online and then take a Saturday off to head somewhere beautiful. Use cell phones or tablets to take artistic, creative photos—instead of the quick selfies.
  • Let your kids plan, shop for, and fix a meal each week. (Only offer the minimum amount of help.)
  • Allow them to take something off “your” important list for their lives in order to add something they think is important. Creative projects take time, but make sure they use their extra time for something creative.
  • Let them earn what you would pay for things like a car wash, simple home repair, or housekeeping service. But, they have to volunteer and do the work. If they don’t do it right, they don’t get paid—because that’s how it works in the real world. (And you probably won’t hire someone again who hasn’t done it right.)

Your kids can become DIY experts using the internet. There are videos for just about everything, and we ought to give them the chance to learn.

Your teens probably can retile their bathrooms with just one class from Home Depot! The hardest part will be getting your permission.

Your child can learn to replace an outlet. It’s easy.

Your child can learn to rewire a light fixture. It’s easy. (Make sure you turn off the breaker first!)

Your child can replace most of the plumbing in your toilet. It’s usually easy. (Make sure the cutoff valve below works well first!)

Your child can do yard work, wash cars, cook meals, and do laundry.

What’s really most important?

Children can become incredibly capable people—if we expect them to become that. So, what is most important to your child’s life?

That he or she belonged to a team, with friends they won’t even know ten years from now? Or that they spent time with you, learning how to work, fix things, and know how to do things for themselves?  

Are you raising your child to be a DIY human being or to be an HSE (hire someone else) person? Trends are showing that DIY people are going to become increasingly popular and respected in the future. Vegetable gardens are a big deal again!  

But DIY living is more time-consuming and messier, and it isn’t as popular to raise DIY kids. There will be mistakes to clean up, and you will have to help them learn instead of doing something you would rather do. Mom and Dad might have to be content with the normal kid who doesn’t walk away with a lot of awards or sports trophies.

On the other hand, you will raise a kid who knows how to work, how to think, and how to solve problems. Which probably means you will raise a kid who is able to get a good job someday, keep that job, and take care of themselves and a family.  

What needs fixing at your house today?

Maybe you can sit down with your child, google a video, and decide whether you want to tackle it yourselves. Maybe a class at Home Depot will help. Trust me: Your kids will surprise you! Give them the chance to figure it out, create a solution, and learn that they are capable. And if they can walk away with a “paycheck” too, even better!

Is your child skillful in their work?

I’m sixty and I raised two great boys. Looking back, I wish I had lived this article instead of just writing it!

My dad made me learn how to do all those things I suggested above. But, I thought it was more important for my kids to do something else. As I look back, it wasn’t. The trophies earned are long gone. But that running toilet is going to cost them a hefty plumbing bill! Their lives would have benefitted by becoming a bit more DIY!

King Solomon wrote, “Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men” (Proverbs 22:29). (One edit: that goes for women these days too!)

So, consider raising a DIY kid. Who knows? Maybe we’ll see him or her on Shark Tank in ten years!