I was in our 2-year-old daughter’s room, dressing her in her Hello Kitty PJs for the evening, when I heard that all-familiar sound to a mother’s ears, echoing from the bathtub: sobbing.

Now, when you’re a parent, you know that sound could mean a variety of things. Shampoo in the eyes. A broken toy. Or very rarely, a real concern needing immediate attention. I figured I should check it out.

Entering the bathroom led to the discovery of our 5 year old in the midst of a real, heart-wrenching, alligator-tears meltdown.

Show Mom Diaries: Tears in the bathtubThe reason? His 8-year-old brother is old enough to show the heifers and steer this year through 4-H and the National Junior Hereford Association (NJHA). And he’s not.

(And why this revelation hit him during the middle of an ordinary, weekday bath? Well, your guess is as good as mine.)

I’ll admit. The sight of him in this condition broke this “momma heart” a bit. I wrapped him in a towel and headed to the living room so we could chat. We discussed the fact that both boys’ names are on the registration papers. That he’s an integral part of the daily wash-rack and feeding routines. Even big brother offered a few words of encouragement – which was a complete demonstration of the family’s level of concern over the matter.

It was obvious – my husband and I needed to think of something. And quick.

It’s funny how two children can be raised in the same home, with the same parenting methods, but possess personalities of polar-opposite proportions. Our boys are living proof.

Waylon, our 8 year old, is the studious type. He loves his books, video games and movies. Showing cattle is something that he is attempting because mom and dad have encouraged it.

After his first year in the NJHA, he’s excited for the shows this year. But his excitement stems from seeing his friends and competing in the speech and photography contests. The cattle are a nice little side benefit. A means to an end, so to speak.

But Nolan loves the livestock as much as the people. Nothing brings him more joy than pulling on his barn boots after school and venturing to the barn to check on his animals. Homework and studying and school? They just get in the way of the important work to be done outside.

In order to motivate Waylon to complete the day-to-day activities on the farm, and to provide Nolan with a sense of ownership in the cattle project, my husband and I have decided to begin a chore chart for the barn.

We are tailoring the chores to the boys’ ages. Waylon will be responsible for washing, blowing, brushing and practicing showmanship each day – all with the assistance of mom and dad, of course. Nolan will have chores more suited for a kindergartener, including checking water tanks, haying the cattle and assisting with feeding.

Our hope is that Waylon will take pride in checking off his accomplishments for the day (playing off his scholastic side), and Nolan will be excited to have important jobs of his own (giving him ownership).

It all sounds good in theory, right? I’ll let you know how it goes.

And I’d love to hear from you! What tricks or tips do you have on providing encouragement for daily chores, and for providing ownership for younger siblings, ready to be in the ring?

Please leave your best advice in the comments below. We’re in this together. So let’s help each other out!