Monday, December 7, 2009

Teaching Children Responsibility

My oldest daughter is now 5 years old - soon to be 6, and we have been trying to figure out the best way to get her involved in the household chores. Makayla is a helpful little girl - but like every child - only on her terms. Last night when I was cooking dinner, the sink was piling up with dishes, the counter tops were strewn with cooking utensils and food, and Makayla was complaining that she was bored and needed something to do. As a flustered mom, busy in the moment, I suggested she unload the dishwasher for me. This was a task that she has completed many times before without a problem, so I thought it would be wonderful for her to help me out, and cure her boredom! Well, I was wrong. She gave me the most disgusted look and stomped out of the room yelling about how boring that would be, and how could I possibly ask her to do such a boring thing! I wasn't surprised. But felt I needed to do something about that behavior. As soon as dinner time was over, my husband and I sat down to discuss our thoughts on Makayla's ability to handle responsibility. We are both convinced that she is old enough to have regular responsibilities. So we came up with a small list of things she has done around the house before and will be capable of handling. Next, we had to determine if we wanted to provide a reward system. I am not sure that an allowance is necessary at this point, so we talked about the fact that Makayla loves playing the computer. Lately her computer time has been random, and the time she spends playing games has not been monitored really well. So we decided that for every task she completes, she will earn 10 minutes of computer time. This will give her incentive to help out around the house, and it will also give us incentive to monitor how long she is on the computer. Last, I came up with a visual chart for Makayla. We printed it out, and posted it on the fridge. She was very excited about having these responsibilities...and I can only hope that we are heading in the right direction for creating structure in her life!
Do you have any tips or suggestions for creating responsibility in children?

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