Monday, January 22, 2018

Struggle with teaching your kids responsibility?

So it's a new year and perhaps you are thinking about goals for your yourself and your children. One common goal for many parents has to do with responsibility, and how to teach it. You've been trying to for years now and yet, somehow, your kids still aren't quite getting it. They still need to be pushed to get their homework done, to clean their room, or to do their chores around the house. It's getting harder and harder for you. What can you do?

We've heard it many times before, "It's hard to push a chain." This could likely be a problem of motivation. How can you make this a situation where your children are self-motivated rather than one where they are doing, or not doing, what you want?
The answer is "buy in." Your children need to feel that they are included in the decisions to do these things. They can pick which tasks need to be done each day, like homework, and which ones less often. If they help make a calendar for their tasks they are already taking responsibility.

Another way to motivate by pulling the chain is to change the consequences. Instead of taking things away, provide rewards when things get better. And let them pick the rewards from a list that you make with them. Again, this puts them into a position of making choices for themselves. And isn't that a large part of responsibility? You might want to use a point system where they earn more points for harder jobs, or getting them done in good fashion. But points are not taken away, only not earned when there is no effort made. Avoid the ego battle.

There are many ways to adapt these ideas to fit your family. You know yourself and your children. That's your job. I know you already spend lots of time and energy with your kids and might think that this is one more thing on top. But pulling the chain is much easier and works better. And it changes the interaction to a positive one. You will find your children talking with you instead of arguing. When kids participate in life decisions they become self motivated, and more mature.
Good luck to you in this important goal. It will help your children see that taking responsibility can be a positive experience for themselves. And for you too.

Fred Buschhoff
Author of The Constructive Parent
Families First Parent Educator