Teaching Kids Responsibility
Me: "Where's your lunch box?"
Kindergartener: "I thought you had it."
Grrr. The day before she forgot her backpack. So I stopped and thought about why. Yep, I've been remembering them for her all year. I fell right into the trap of being responsible for her instead of teaching her how to be responsible for herself. Basically sending her the message that I don't believe she's capable of taking responsibility. That's not the message I want to send! Plus, I'm sick of being in charge of her stuff. So I turned to Positive Discipline and found a fantastic article about how to smooth out morning routines and teach children responsibility. Here's what we did:
I considered driving back to the house to get her lunch (I admit sheepishly). It's tempting to want to give a big long lecture to a kid about responsibility to make them "pay" for their mistake but then rescue them in the end by, in this case, delivering the lunch. It was better for both of us for me to say very little and let the natural consequences do the teaching. She ate a school lunch. And lived.
Involve Kid in Problem Solving
I waited until we had some time alone to talk. I said, I realized I'd been the one in charge of her school things but that seemed silly because I know she's capable of being responsible for them herself. I asked if she agreed. She did. I told her exactly what I meant, "when we are packing up the car in the morning I expect you to find and bring your backpack and lunch box without a reminder." I asked, "what would help you remember?" Her face lit up. "A checklist!" We got out paper and markers and she went to work. It's hanging on the fridge.
Now if it looks like she's about the head out the door all easy-breezy-like with nothing in her hands all I have to say is, "who is responsible for your school things?" and she perks up with an empowered, "I am!" Maria Montessori's words are ringing in my head, "never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed."