Teaching Kids Responsibility

My daughter Rebekah has always been good at losing things. I really don’t know what she does with stuff – there must be some monster that comes into her room at night and “eats” things.

Anyhow, Rebekah lost a DVD that belonged to the library. Now this wasn’t the first one that she had lost, it was the second. And I was getting  a bit frustrated with having to pay for a new one, not to mention the embarrassment of going in to the library and telling them that we had lost “yet another one”.     

I decided that she would have to have some kind of consequence for losing the DVD so I decided to enforce some rules for her. The first rule was that she couldn’t borrow any more books or DVDs from the library until we had found or replaced the DVD. This encouraged her to think harder and look more frantically to find it.

When we decided that it wasn’t going to mysteriously appear I decided we had no alternative but to go ahead and pay the fine. Then I devised a plan that I shared with Becky, much to her dismay. It went something like this:

“OK, Rebekah, I had to pay $40 because you were careless with the DVD. So now you need to find a way to pay me back that money. So here’s what I will do: you can do some extra chores around the house to earn the money to pay me back. I will give you $20 per hour and you can do two hours of extra chores to pay me back for the money I had to spend”.

Rebekah was not impressed, nevertheless she understood the principle and went ahead and did the extra chores without arguing. I was happy, not about getting some extra help, but for the fact the she understood the concept of having to do something to “make it right”.

I have no doubt that next time, if there is a next time, she will be more careful with things that don’t belong to her. And that is the result that I am hoping for. That is the best possible outcome for both of us. It may seem a bit cruel or harsh but let me tell you something. The cruellest thing would be not to prepare your child adequately for the world that they are going to live in when they grow up.

As parents it is our responsibility to prepare our kids for the future. So always keep in mind the long term goal when parenting. Kids might not be impressed right now but they will thank you down the track.

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