Teaching Children About Responsibility

Mom Columnist Gretchen tracks her sons' responsibilities with a chart, hoping in the end it'll lead to a better appreciation of working hard.

There are many moments that I hope my children will recall as fond memories from childhood when they are adults — moments they don’t appreciate now, but might later say, "If it wasn't for my mom..."

We are working on responsibilities in our house. Each member of the family has responsibilities in our household — including the children. I'm purposely not calling these "chores.” I'm not looking at this solely as an opportunity to have someone help me scrub the toilet or feed the dog, but hope to eliminate whining about homework and begging for a toy every time we walk into Target.

Each week some responsibilities change, and some remain the same, like doing homework. Each completed responsibility earns my children a smiley face. At the end of the day, if they’ve received a smiley face next to each of their responsibilities they earn 25 cents. If they don't earn a smiley face for even one responsibility ... no money.

It only took my youngest son, who is six years old, two days to catch on to this.

The boys are excited about earning money and being able to save up to purchase one of the many toys they’ve been begging for. I'm the type of parent who incorporates learning into any moment that I can, and with the responsibility chart we work on a lot of math.

Each day earns 25 cents; how much money could you make after five days? But you missed two days, how much money will you earn?

Last week you earned $1.25, this week you earned $1.75 ... How much money do you have all together?

We do math on paper first and then count the money out with actual dollars and coins; that way they know what the different types of money look like.

This morning after reviewing the chart my youngest said, "I'm so excited to go to Daddy's this week!"

His father and I are divorced and we share custody.

"What are you most excited about?" I asked.

"Not having any responsibility chart."

The experience of the responsibility chart will make my sons better people in the world, I know in my heart this is true. But this statement crushed my heart just a little today.

Gretchen Schock is a mom, a writer and a . Check out her creative writings and crafty goodness on her blog, www.CocktailMom.com. Or come to a yoga class and be inspired!

Gretchen Schock October 13, 2011 at 01:28 PM
I bought it at Kohl's last year but it's made by melissa and doug. Here is a link to it on amazon http://www.amazon.com/Melissa-Doug-Deluxe-Magnetic-Responsibility/dp/B000NTZL7U
Brenda Deane March 29, 2012 at 05:33 AM
And then they become teens! I work, have 18 year old, 13 year old twins, and am bringing the reward chart back into play! It might be online games and lipgloss now, but I'll let you know if it still works!
Gretchen Schock March 29, 2012 at 12:25 PM
I imagine that it still will work, let me know if it does. My sister has teenagers and I have often remarked to her that their reward for being responsible could be learning how to drive. There is no law that says you must teach your child how to drive by 16. Teenagers should be thankful that their parent is taking the time to teach them, take them to take the test etc. I plan on using that as leverage when the time comes. :)
Sarah Wayland March 29, 2012 at 12:37 PM
I've heard that (and am actually now experiencing) children in their teenage years are a lot like toddlers. They want more independence, they sleep an astonishing amount, their brains are changing in amazing and profound ways. They have temper tantrums, and they need clear guidance and limits, while being able to explore being more independent in a safe environment. We've put rewards in place for our 14 year old that involve access to the internet. We normally block YouTube, but we give access to YouTube for a reward. It's important that rewards be fairly immediate - many teenagers can't wait out for a reward that is too far in the future (e.g., driving privileges when you are 16 for a 14 year old.)
Gretchen Schock March 29, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Sarah that is a very good point- a 14 year old not begin able to wait till they are 16 to get the reward. That makes perfect sense. And how fantastic that you found a reward that is free!


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »