(based on Work from Author and Psychologist, John Rosemond)
It is a simple matter to discipline a child who is paying attention to you and almost impossible to discipline a child who is not. The more attention you pay a child, the less attention the child will pay to you. We’ve seen that parenting is about leadership and having a more active relationship with your spouse than with your child. You need to put yourself at the center of your child’s attention, not the other way around. Now for our next post covering our classes on Leadership Parenting: The Responsible Child.
Teaching Children Responsibility: Rosemond’s No-Nonsense Approach
Rosemond suggests that one of the best ways to mold children into responsible individuals is to give them age appropriate chores. By the time your child is 4, he should be contributing to the maintenance of the household everyday. Parents in the past made sure that by age FOUR children have been inducted into full, contributory participation in their families. They accomplished this by assigning their kids chores. Not just occasional chores here and there . . . but ROUTINES of chores that consumed blocks of times each and every day.
Here’s Why to Start Assigning Chores
Here are some practical outcomes for your to keep in mind to help you stay the course of:
- Holding your children responsible for chores helps them develop the skills for running a home and enables them to become independent.
- It enables them to develop a sense of significance in the family.
- Chores finished responsibly contribute to self-esteem.
- It enables them to develop a contributor’s mentality, a sense of initiative.
- Chores in the home enable a child to identify and bond with the values of the family.
- Chores are an exercise in good citizenship. They teach children teamwork, responsibility to others, and the service ethic.
Here’s How to Start Assigning Chores
- Sit down and make a list of all your child’s privileges, the things they really enjoy.
- Then make a list of the age appropriate responsibilities – fewer for younger, more for older.
- Make a 7 day calendar on a sheet of paper or a white board. Write up a job description (see example) so that there is no confusion about expectations. Divide the household chores between the children, distributed throughout the week and post it somewhere. To make things a bit easier, color code the responsibilities. Blue=done in morning, red=immediately after school, green=after dinner
- Assign a penalty – loss of privilege, a consequence – for failing, forgetting or refusing to fulfill the responsibilities.
- Sit down with the child and explain the plan very clearly making sure they understand.
- Apply the rule.
Here’s 10 Things to Keep in Mind while Assigning Chores
- A contributor, not a consumer.
Put your child into a meaningful role in your family, one that is defined in terms of responsibilities known as chores/responsibilities. Without chores, a child is a mere consumer.
- It’s about the routine.
Your child’s responsibilities should not be assigned haphazardly, but should be established as a routine. In addition to picking up after himself and keeping his own living space clean and orderly, he should be working in “common areas” of the home, doing such things as dusting and vacuuming.
- From day one, keep clutter out of your child’s life by keeping toys and other “stuff” at a minimum.
Paradoxically, children who entertain themselves well (low-maintenance children) tend to have few toys. These children are also more grateful for and take better care of what they have. Grow an imaginative, creative child.
- A child should do chores because his parents tell him to do them, period.
There should be no rewards for this other than the reward of being a member of a family that is blessed to live in a family dwelling that affords protection from weather and critters, and within which there is lots of love and good food.
- On the other hand, if the child fails to do his chores, then he should pay a price of some sort.
That’s what happens in Real World, and remember, this is all about helping children learn about Real World.
- Be supportive, not directive.
If children ask for help, provide it; but, the best approach is to assign tasks they can do without you “looking over their shoulder.” Leaving them to work out the chore says “I believe in you” and that attitude, in turn, encourages self-belief. Don’t give tasks they can’t handle or you couldn’t afford for them to mess up. Also, don’t assign chores that can only be done one way, yours.
- Provide a schedule or a time frame.
A schedule helps them learn to do things in a timely way on a regular basis.Without a sense of time management how can any person know what commitments they can or cannot accept?
- Don’t pay for getting the chores done, but do give an allowance.
They are already rewarded with housing, clothing, food, medical care and many unnecessary personal and recreation goodies. No contribution they are able to make could ever be equal to the benefits they normally receive. Don’t pay for doing responsibilities. An allowance, however, could be given and be allotted for specific things: clothes, shoes, recreation, etc. without being attached to chores. The primary purpose of an allowance is to help children develop a sense of financial management, not reward them for doing chores.
- Don’t alternate chores between children.
When a specific chores isn’t assigned to one person no one takes responsibility for it and it opens the door to arguing over whose turn it is and who’s to blame when it isn’t done.
- Don’t renege on penalties for lack of performance.
The rule of thumb for nurturing a sense of responsibility in your child is: for every infraction of a rule a penalty must be imposed. If the child forgets to complete a chore or fails to respond to usual requests – like get up in the morning when called – then a penalty must be imposed.
And be sure not to renege or falter. Like a referee at a sporting event, impose the penalties exactly as prescribed without discussion or hesitation. This approach will inoculate children against wasteful lifestyles and aimless living and will transfer the burden of responsibility from the parents’ shoulders to that of the child.
Not Working? Check Your Delivery
Remember that the keys to effective discipline are the “Three C’s” of clear, authoritative communication, compelling consequences, and consistency. Be sure to assign emotional and practical responsibility for a child’s misbehavior to its rightful owner—the child.
If you don’t feel you’ve made significant headway in two months after taking a Leadership Role, most likely your delivery is the problem. A determined but calm enforcement style will bring even the most strong-willed child into line in a relatively short period of time. Also, keep in mind that the fact that a child acts unfazed by a consequence does not mean it’s not having any effect.