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Teaching A Child Responsibility

Jun 13, 2008
My daughter is called Rebekah and she is nine years old. She 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, Becky lost a DVD that belonged to the library. Now this wasn't the first time she had lost something from the library, it was the second time. And mum was getting a little bit frustrated, not to mention embarrassed about going to the library and saying once again "my daughter has lost this DVD".

I decided that Becky would have to have some consequence of losing this 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 lost 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 option but to pay the fine. So I devised a plan that I shared with Becky, much to her dismay. It went something like this:

"OK, Rebekah, I had to pay a $40 fine because you were careless with the DVD. So now you need to find a way to pay me back the money. So here's what I am prepared to do: you can do some extra chores around the house to earn the money you need to pay me back. I will give you $8 per hour and you can do five hours of extra chores to pay me back for the money I had to spend".

Becky was not impressed, nevertheless she understood the principle and went ahead and did the chores without arguing. I was happy, not because I had some extra help, but for the fact that 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 to not prepare your child adequately for the world they are going to be living in when they grow up.

Remember that as parents it is our responsibility to prepare our kids for the future. So always keep in mind the long term goal when parenting. Your kids will not always like it at the time but they will thank you for it down the track.
About the Author
Kim Patrick is a single mum with four children who lives on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. She is author of the book, "Get Your Child To Behave In 30 Days Or Less". For more information on how to get your child to behave, you can go to http://www.mychildcanbehave.com/main.html
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