Question:As parents, what are some ways we can start teaching our children to be responsible in all areas of life? For example, doing chores correctly, getting school work completed, listening, etc. We have an 8 year old daughter who is irresponsible in these areas, and we feel it is important to start at a young age to teach responsibility.
One of the keys to helping kids with responsibilities is the issue of communication and consequences.
We as parents need to be clear in our communication with our kids about responsibilites, what we expect, why we expect that, and the overall goal of being a responsible person. We need to be sure that we are asking for appropriate responsibility from our kids. Sometimes what we see as being irresponsible is merely our kids being kids.
A part of the communication of expectations is giving them clear ability to fulfill the request. My son is 6 and has been learning to clean his room. There are times that I am so frustrated by the way his room looks. In one of those moments, my wife said to me, "If you're frustrated and don't know what to do or where to start, just imagine how he feels." What we needed to do is give him the ability to fulfill the request, not doing it for him, but giving direction and options for where to start and how finish.
The second area is the area of consequences. What are the consequences of your daughter not fulfilling her responsibilities? Are they clearly defined? Does she understand them? Do they really matter to her, or could she just the same blow them off? Do you and your husband follow through, every time?
We need to add negative consequences, but also positive ones too. Celebrate with them, discipline them... but help them see what the overall goal is, how to get there, and what happens if they do or don't.