Getting an education is a tremendous privilege. Most parents recognize that future opportunities are built on many layers of learning that happen during the school years. That’s why when kids make poor choices at school, either behavioral or academic, parents usually get pretty upset. If we are honest, it’s mostly because we think our kids’ bad judgment or irresponsibility reflects poorly on US! But really, their behavior is THEIR “report card” and not ours. As school approaches, take some time to prepare your children to be responsible for themselves this school year.
1) Let your child know that they are now ready to be more responsible.
Since they are maturing and becoming more independent, this is an important step in guiding their growth. Help your child understand that as they grow older, they are better equipped to learn on their own. Then, follow through with your resolve, allow them to take ownership of their learning. If you anxiously micromanaged your child’s responsibility at school in previous years, apologize for communicating the untrue message that they weren’t responsible!
2) Build their sense of responsibility.
- Let your child determine their back to school supplies list. Give them a budget but as little assistance with decisions as possible.
- If they don’t know, teach them how to log in to the website that shows their assignments and grades. Communicate now that you can be a resource for their schoolwork, but they are in charge of figuring out what help they really need.
- Ask them how they want to organize their homework area and what supplies they’ll need. (e.g. Some kids stay focused better if sitting on an exercise ball instead of a chair.)
- You can also give them increased independence with their daily routine and chores, and watch for and affirm any evidence of responsibility or growth.
For more information on these principles, check out our book,
Discipline That Connects With Your Child’s Heart.
3) Let your kids live with the results of their choices.
Remind yourself that no matter what their grades, children who learn they are truly responsible for their lives go much further in life than children who either scramble to please everyone else with their performance, or depend on others to get by. A few rough grades now may provide a learning experience that will help them far more than an A in one class ever will.