I was on the tube the other day listening to a parent having a conversation over her phone with her child – yes. I was ear-wigging! The conversation went on for a while but the gist of it appeared to be that the child had not done a project that they had known about for a while. They had a karate class that evening and didn’t want to go so that they could finish the school project. The parent went from telling them off to trying to find a solution to eventually giving in and telling the child they could miss karate just this once. I really had to hold my tongue, I tell you. What was this parent teaching this child but allowing them to renege on one responsibility to meet another that they should have planned for? My guess is that this child will make this mistake again and again. There is no way I would ever let my child off this easily! Yes, I know it is easy to give in, I know it earns you brownie points and rescues your child sufficiently. However, what does it teach them? It certainly wasn’t teaching responsibility that was for sure !
Teaching responsibility – What this parent could have said was…
“I understand that you need to complete your project, however karate is non-negotiable. You committed to going when we signed you up, so you need to honour your commitment. How can you ensure both of these things get done?
I know that the child would argue, maybe even calling a few names out and using whatever tactics were available to them, but as the parent you must stick to your guns and just keep asking the question, what you are going to do to work this out. Sure, you may be able to ease the stress for them by driving them to karate for example, but what you must not do is step in to save them. If you do that when they are younger it will get worse and worse in the teen years and your child will learn nothing about responsibilities and commitment.
How do you make sure your children keep to their commitments? How do you go about teaching responsibility?