Teaching Your Kids to Take Care of What Belongs to Them
Joey and Carla Link
April 25, 2018
Stewardship is a big word with an even bigger meaning. “Taking care of what belongs to you” is a simplified definition. As parents, it can seem like we spend 18 years teaching our kids to take care of what belongs to them. Even toddlers can and should be taught to pick up their toys and put their dirty clothes in the hamper.
So what do you do when you are pulling your hair out because you reminded your child to clean his room one more time and just lectured him because he didn’t?
The following are some helpful guidelines for you.
- Keep your expectations age appropriate. Don’t tell a 3 year old to clean his room. He will walk in, look at the mess and not knowing where to begin, sit down and play. Do write down all that needs to be done to get his room clean and give him one at a time do. Tell him to come back to you when he gets his books picked up. Give him another thing on the list you made. Keep at it until everything is picked up.
On the other hand, do expect your kids from ages 7 yrs. on up to be able to remember to get his chores and schoolwork done with no reminders from you.
- Keep it simple. Our rule was to get one thing out and put it away before getting another. Your preschooler doesn’t want to put his toys away? He can’t play with anything else until he does.
Your 10 year old is on the computer but hasn’t done his chores? He loses the freedom of the computer/phone until he is characterized by getting his stuff done before he has free time.
- Keep reinforcing your expectations. When your child is responsible, especially without a reminder from you, praise him. Praise and encouragement go a long, long way to getting your kids to be responsible. When your kids aren’t responsible, especially if they have had one reminder from you, give them a painful consequence. Without these reinforcements, don’t expect your kids to keep track of their stuff.
One of the main reasons kids aren’t good stewards of their things and responsibilities is because they don’t think you are paying attention. If they are supposed to have chores done before breakfast, when they come to eat, ask them if you need to go check and see if it is done. One of our daughters used to say “I’ll go check” which meant they weren’t. Pay attention to what your kids are or aren’t doing and be consistent with encouragement and consequences and you will have a lot calmer home.