Consequence = Irresponsibility

teenager washing carWhen Robey was younger, one of his responsibilities (or chores) was to take the garbage out to the street. We told Robey ahead of time that if he didn’t remember to take the garbage out by 7:00 a.m., I would take the garbage out and he would have the opportunity to “experience” our predefined consequence.

The consequence for failing to do a chore is not to punish the child, but to motivate the child to become responsible enough to choose to remember to do his chores.

Make the consequence fit the irresponsibility.  That means two things.  First, don’t go overboard just because the irresponsibility bugs you.  Secondly, if possible, try to find a consequence that somehow connects to the responsibility.

In Robey’s case, every time I had to take the garbage out, he knew he had to wash the garbage cans out when he got home from school.  As he got older we changed it to every time I had to do his responsibility (take out the garbage) he had to do one of mine; in our case wash my car.  These fit better for us because we live in South Florida.

It is more cumbersome to wash a garbage can (5 minutes) or wash a car (half-an-hour) then it is to choose to remember to take out the garbage (3 minutes).

Pick a consequence that pits the child against the child, rather than a nagging parent. This will motivate him to remember, which in turn motivates him to get the training he needs to become a mature adult.  Get yourself out of the way but do enforce the consequence.

Tomorrow:  What about paying a child to do chores?