3 Ways to Build Up Internal Locus of Control in Your Kids

Whether we know it or not, we’re all managing a team. 

It could be a work team or our family; the concept is still the same. 

On Episode 150 of the podcast this week, I was joined by Kristi, a busy career woman with three teenagers and a husband who is feeling like she needs to take some things off of her plate. 

During our conversation, Kristi shares how her family’s hectic schedule poses a problem for outsourcing tasks. So together, we create a plan for empowering her family members to take ownership of their assigned responsibilities. 

And while we discuss the idea of building up a team mentality in her family across the board, we also touch on a concept that we don’t often hear about, which is internal locus of control

Our internal locus of control is crucial because it’s what helps us feel like we have ownership over our lives. And when built up properly, it’s what helps us to buy into all of the chores and significant responsibilities that we run into as adults.

So, that’s what I’d like to dive into here today: how to help our kids build up their internal locus of control so that we can delegate more responsibilities to them that will help them become more productive, responsible adults once they’ve left the nest.

Ready to jump in? Let’s do it!


3 Ways to Build Up

Internal Locus of Control in Your Kids


1. Encourage Choices – 

Feeling like we have a choice in anything that we do is essential to building up our own internal locus of control, and the same is true for our kids.

If you want to delegate more of the household chores to your kids, let’s say, like Kristi on Episode 150 this week, then a great way to get them on board is to offer them choices. 

For example, you might ask: “Would you rather vacuum the main living spaces, or clean the bathrooms?” 

Both are clearly household chores, but by allowing your kids to choose themselves, they feel like they are still in control.

And this works for smaller children, as well. Maybe you’re trying to encourage healthier eating habits in your kids that will set them up for greater success as teenagers and adults.

Your conversation with your child might look like this, “Would you rather have apple slices for snack time today, or carrot sticks?” Both are healthy options, but you’re leaving the final decision to them.

The more you’re able to encourage choices, the more they feel like they’re in the driver’s seat, and the better the long-term results.


2. Let them in on the Process –

Another great way to help your kids build up their internal locus of control is to not only assign them tasks at home but to also let them in on the entire process as a whole.

If, for example, you’ve assigned one of your kids to help with dinner each night, what are all the components that go into preparing dinner? And where does their responsibility fit in the grand scheme of things? 

Even if you’ve only given your kids the task of choosing what recipe to use for the family meal, the idea here is to guide them through the entire process. From cutting up veggies and prepping sides, to cooking, to serving, and the clean-up that goes on after the meal is over, and everyone has left the table.

In other words, don’t limit your children’s focus to the one microscopic detail of a chore or task you’ve delegated to them. Instead, allow them in on the entire process: how the house runs smoothly when their job is complete, and why work that they put into it is essential.

Doing so will help them take ownership of their responsibilities, and will encourage them to continue their efforts even long after they’re grown and out on their own.


3. Choose Your Words Wisely – 

We all like to be praised for a job done well, right?

Here’s the thing, though: the words you choose to congratulate your kids for doing a great job on–whether it comes to their homework, a chore, or something else, matters more than you might think.

Rather than offering flat responses, like “Good job!” when a job is done well, provide actionable feedback instead

Example: “You worked hard on vacuuming the house! I love how you took your time to move the living room furniture around to ensure that even those hard-to-reach places were cleaned.”

Highlighting what your kids do well by providing specific, actionable feedback encourages them to believe in themselves and to repeat that same level of effort on a future task. 

This, in turn, will help them build their internal locus of control, which will aid them well in adulthood long after they’ve ventured off into the world on their own.

How do you help your kids build up their internal locus of control? Let me know what has worked well for you (and even what hasn’t) in the comments below. 

And check out Episode 150 of Productivity Paradox to hear Kristi’s story, and some of the ways we were able to pin-point where delegating tasks to her three teenagers will come in handy as they learn to work together as one, smooth-operating team.

And if you’re in the market for incorporating more delegation into your day at home or work, be sure to grab a copy of my FREE Delegation Download to help you get started!


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Tonya Dalton
Tonya Dalton