Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How do I get my kids to be responsible?

Ms. Dorothy
I have been having trouble lately I started school this semester and it seems my children stopped doing all homework all chores all responsibilities. Can you help?
A Student and Mom

It sounds like your children are accustomed to having someone supporting them with homework and chores.  It is possible that the work routines in your home are built around your motivation and drive.  

Perhaps they have not internalized the importance you put on these activities, and are still looking for you to remind and require them to do their work.  

You may need to create a system to replace you in the work formula.  

Having a list or schedule of what needs to be done and when might help.  You can have the children check off each task as it is completed.  Another option might be to reward tasks done, and withhold a privilege for things left un-done. 

More impactful, however, would be to ignore the dishes in the sink, the laundry in the hall, or the homework left undone, and allow your children to experience the consequences for their choices.

This is  a challenging path because it requires you to live with the messy rooms, and face the teacher reports.  

It does, however, but the responsibility for getting these things done back on the boys.   

Making up a new schedule for homework might help as well.  If they will only work when you are there to supervise them,  make the last hour before bed time a homework hour.  It isn't the ideal "directly after school"  homework time you were accostomed to inforcing, but it may make getting something done more realistic.   

Then choose something you can live with, and ignore the fact that they haven't done it.   

Be sure to explain that you can't be in a kitchen full of dirty dishes, so you will be unable to cook dinner or make lunches for school.  They will live without a meal one night, and so will you.  Feel free to tell them how hungry you are while you work on homework.  I won't take more than one night of sleeping on an empty tummy before they are sure to get those dishes done.   

Just be sure that it doesn't become about you nagging, or cajoling, or bribing or convincing them.  It should simply be a lesson in cause and effect.  Because the dishes didn't get done, you can't cook and everyone will be hungry tonight.  The more matter-of-fact, the better.  When they want to beg, or convince you, simply change the subject.  They will catch on!

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