How can I start teaching my child responsibility?
Real Mom Problem
“My kids are 11, seven, and five, and they lose everything! Hats, jackets, backpacks, toys -- the list goes on and on. How can I teach them to be more responsible?”
- 1. Set up routines and daily expectations for tasks kids must complete, such as brushing teeth, putting laundry in the hamper, and getting their backpacks ready for school the next day
- 2. Praise your child when he does things for himself, whether you have to remind him to do it or not
- 3. Resist the urge to help your kids do things that they can do for themselves
- 4. Allow your child to do chores around the house, such as feeding a pet, folding laundry, or setting the table
Real Mom Solutions
It's tempting to do things for your child to save time and make sure they are getting things right, but moms say taking time to teach your child about responsibility is worth it in the long run. See how these moms do it.
Teach with Natural Consequences
I don't do everything for my son, and if he forgets it (and it's not my fault) he can take the consequences.
Children need to take responsibility for their own stuff. My son forgot his backpack one time and I would not bring it to him. Needless to say he got in trouble for not having his homework or his planner (he is in first grade). That was the only time he has forgotten it. He now knows that it is not my responsibility to remind him of what he needs to do. Six-year-olds are often forgetful and a chart may help ensure that everything gets done without you having to constantly remind him.
If a parent is constantly running to the school to bring things the child forgot, what is the child really learning? He's learning to depend more on mom than himself. We want our kids to learn independence and reliability, but if we do for them what they should do for themselves, they won't learn to be accountable, responsible, and reliable for a long time. The best time to teach these things is when they are young. Natural consequences teach these traits much quicker than nagging, preaching, or doing for the child.
I hung a chart for my son on the door we leave from. He has to call out each item on the chart that he needs to make sure he has it. It has saved his butt a few times now! I would never drive up to the school with his backpack if he forgot it. He would need to deal with the consequences.
Hold Them Accountable
If your kids are losing things like coats and scarves, give them only one of each so that way they have to keep track of things.
If they lost a toy, if you find it first, hide it from them. If they don't ask for it, apparently it wasn't important enough to them. If they earn an allowance, tell them they will have to replace the lost item themselves if they lose it again.
I check chores twice a week. If your responsibilities aren't met, if your stuff is all over the house, if your room isn't clean, then you don't get paid for your chores. I pay extra if the kids OFFER to help with my chores like mopping the kitchen, vacuuming, washing the dog or the car.
Show Them the Value of Money
I want to teach my daughter to be responsible with money. My parents never taught us that. We didn't get allowances. If we wanted money, we just asked for it. It didn't teach me anything about handling money. I had to learn all that the hard way. So for now, I teach my daughter the importance of finances with the money she gets as gifts, but I think I would really like to set up a little allowance of money per week so that she can learn to save some, give some, and spend some (wisely). I am also in favor of teaching kids to earn money through extra work (such as selling things at a lemonade/cupcake stand or whatnot, having yard sales, babysitting, etc.). I also want to do this as a way to encourage her math skills and we also talk about not wanting to be greedy and selfish (which is why I feel it's important to donate to charity AND volunteer our time).
I don't think helping out your family is something you should get paid for. If they want to earn money, I am more than happy to help them along the way, setting them up with neighborhood jobs, helping them apply for paper routes, helping them set up sidewalk stands, etc. When my kids have to go out and work if they want money, while having responsibilities at home, I think that's what teaches them the value of a hard-earned dollar.
I think giving kids an allowance teaches them the value of money. My boys do chores (even my two-year-old) and they get money. Each chore pays differently. They have to pay for watching TV (unless it is a family movie). In the summertime it is one dollar for 30 minutes of TV time, and in the winter it is one dollar for an hour of TV time (and they can only go three dollars in the hole before TV is cut off from them until they can pay for it all). We do the same with computer time unless it is for school. This system has helped a lot; they understand money and they are learning that things are not free and you need to work to get what you want. The two older kids like this idea (they were the ones who came up with the idea) and the younger one just goes with it.
At our house we give allowances. We give $1 for each year the child is old (e.g. my five-year-old gets $5). We tell him his "job" is to do well in school and take care of his room. He gets paid each week if he does his job. Then we use it as a math and budgeting lesson. First, we add this week's money to whatever he still has from past weeks (so he's doing addition). Then we have two jars and an envelope we put money in. The envelope is his tithe; we put 10% in that envelope and he takes that to church. Then the jars: the first jar is for savings and he decides what he wants to put in that jar. It is for a long-term goal like an expensive toy, or a trip that he really wants to go on. He has to put something in each week, even if it's just a penny. He can spend what he wants and then the other jar is for short term savings, the money left from whatever he buys (if anything) that week. He sometimes saves as much as $100 before buying something.
Give Them Household Responsibilities
We believe that chores are responsibilities that you do when you are a part of a family and live in a home. You help make the messes so you can help clean them up. Doing this is also teaching them skills for the future. My kids won't go off to college not knowing how to do their own laundry.
My six-year-old is responsible for letting the dog out every morning and feeding him. He also must pick up his toys when he's done playing and his bedroom every night after dinner; this means putting away his toys and putting any dirty clothes that might be on his floor in the hamper, and he has to put his plate in the sink when he's done eating.
Choose a place at home for your kids' stuff and if their things are not put in the right spot, make them stop what they are doing and put stuff in the right place.