Summer is a great time to develop responsibility in your children. Many parents plan wonderful activities to keep their children busy over the summer. Camping, swimming, trips to the park, vacationing—all are important family adventures. These events are when important family memories are formed. But summer can be even more important in terms of developing responsibility in children. And this happens at home every day of the summer.
Children of any age can begin to understand what it means for another person to rely on them. As an adult, people rely on us all the time. For example, we remember to pick up our children from school. We pick up groceries for supper. We do laundry so our family has clean clothes to wear. I could go on and on listing things we do because others rely on us to do it. We are dependable.
The ability to be dependable does not automatically happen. For students who struggle to remember things they are supposed to do, or others who have difficulty with executive functioning, there are strategies that can help.
First and foremost, your son has to remember what he is supposed to do. He needs to have chores to do every day. He could feed the family pet, load or unload the dishwasher, make his bed or do some laundry. (My own children started doing their laundry at age eight, and it was a lifesaver for me.) Some of us need to make a list and post it in a prominent place before we remember everything we are supposed to remember. Others do well with electronic calendars such as google calendar (go to google.com and click on calendar). Most smartphones have a calendar app installed when you purchase the phone. If not, there are many free calendar apps available such as aCalendar (for the Android phone) or Agenda (for the iPhone).
Second, your daughter may need incentives to encourage her to do what she is supposed to do. My daughter uses Allowance Manager on her iPhone to reward her sons when they complete their chores. Then, when shopping, if the boys see something they would like, she checks their bank balance to see whether they have earned enough to purchase what they want.
Third, it needs to be clear what it is you want your children to do. They need to understand what they are held responsible for and what the reward will be for doing it (if anything). Adolescents are not aware of how they can contribute to the family without being taught. Learning these things early will make their whole life easier. When they have their own family, they will be a responsible parent and teach their own children how to do the same.
Make this summer a life-changer for your children. Teach them how to be responsible members of the family. Remember, too, that there is no greater reward than a big hug and “I love you,” coming from you.