By Misti Sandefur
Unfortunately, babies don't stay little forever. No matter how much we want them to stay babies, they just won't. Once your children reach a certain age, you should begin teaching them responsibilities. Following are a few things you can do to help your children learn about responsibility.
First, when your children reach the age where they can pick up after themselves and help around the house, create a chore chart -- with an allowance -- for each chore they complete correctly. This teaches your children to help, and it teaches them money responsibilities. Set a date for payment on the chore chart (preferably the day you're paid), and tell your children this will be the date they will be paid for all the chores they've done correctly for that week or month. Assign an amount to each chore they complete properly. For example, $1.00 for cleaning their room, $.50 for taking out the trash, $1.00 for helping with the dishes, etc.
Let them know you will check the jobs they have done, and advise them if the job is not done right they won't be paid for it. For example, if they clean their rooms and hide the items under the beds or in the closet, then let them know this is not correct. (Be sure you check under the beds and in the closet.) Tell them since it's not done properly, they must do it right, but they won't be paid for the job. Then, next time they clean their rooms it should be done right, because they will know from the previous time that they weren't paid when they done things wrong. Furthermore, they will remember they still had to do the job right. If the dishes aren't clean, have them re-wash the dirty dishes, and inform them since the dishes were not clean, they won't be paid for that chore. This may sound strict, but it teaches them responsibility in many ways. Trust me; they will eventually start doing their chores properly.
One last thing with the chores, tell them they can spend their money on clothes, toys or whatever they like, or let them know if they save it they can buy something nicer later down the road. My oldest son saved his money until he got a total of $100, and with his money, he bought a new bike. The other two blew their money, and they were envious when their brother got a new bike and they didn't. I told them he didn't blow his money, he saved it. Now, they're saving their money too.
Later down the road, your children will reach the teenager years, and I guarantee they'll be asking for a cell phone. I have a 13 year-old daughter who has already proposed this question, and she's always saying to me, "But Mom, all my friends have a cell phone." No matter what you say, they will bug you until you give in. Why? Because they're a typical teenager, and they want the same things their friends have. If you give in, tell them how many minutes they have, and when the free times are. Then, have them take their allowance and help pay a portion of the bill. Moreover, inform them if they go over their allotted minutes they must pay for the over charges with their allowance, or by working it out.
All children will eventually get into trouble and not listen to you. They may end up doing something wrong that destroys someone else's property, and guess who will pay? Yep, that's right; you will be the one footing the bill for the broken window. Go ahead and pay for the damaged property to save yourself from having to go to court, but explain to your child since he broke the window, after you told him not to throw rocks, he must pay you back. You can have him pay you back from his allowance, by working it off, or, however, you see fit. You could even have him work for the person whose property he destroyed.
Are your children begging you for a dog? Tell them you will get a dog on one condition... they must take care of it, or at least help you take care of it. Have them feed, water, bathe and walk the dog. This same rule can apply to any other type of animal your children ask for as well (fish, a cat, a ferret, etc.).
Good luck utilizing these techniques with your children, and if you have any other techniques you would like add, feel free to post a comment and let us know about them. We could all use advice from other parents.