This summer I need my kids to up their responsibility game. They are fantastic kids but it’s still up to me to tell them to do this and that – make your bed, put on your shoes, grab a pool towel, put on deodorant….the list goes on. I don’t like nagging but if they remember to take care of their business, it makes the house run much more smoothly. This is how I’m going to make it happen. 

This sweet photo is from Bonnie Kittel on Unsplash.

Encourage responsible kids1 Easy and Effective Way to Encourage Responsibility

You get more of what you focus on

This is a simple rule of life that I’m going to leverage to help my kids take initiative and be more responsible. To help all of us focus on responsibility I’m going to use a reward system. Whenever I notice them being responsible on their own, without prompting from me, I will put a dime or a few dimes in a jar. Once the dimes reach a predetermined level, I will divide the money and they can use it for toys or fun food or whatever.

By using money as a motivator, my kids will focus on being more responsible. They will remind me of the jar as well which will help me to focus on noticing when they are responsible.

Here are some of the finer details of this easy system.

What exactly do you reward them for?

Make it easy for your kids to succeed by listing different things that show responsibility or initiative. You can do this with them or make the list on your own. Keep the list handy or post it on the mirror or some other place where they can see it often.

Why pay them to do something they should do anyway?

The money – or whatever reward system you use – isn’t something to use forever. Its’ purpose is to help both parents and kids focus on a desired behavior. Without this system in place it’s too easy to get busy with life and forget that we are working on the whole responsibility thing. And trust me, if you use the right motivator, even if you forget about looking out for responsibility, your kids will remind you!

When do you take away the reward?

Once the kids have developed some new habits and experienced the pride that naturally comes with taking care of themselves, you can remove the reward system. Keep in mind though, that it’s always nice to be rewarded for our good habits – even if it’s just every now and again.

Why do the kids share the money?

My younger one will have a difficult time understanding why her brother got money but she didn’t. And she will feel very stressed out by this since she doesn’t have the whole money concept down very well. But, there’s another reason that’s even more compelling…

If both the kids (or lots of kids if you have a brood!) can earn money for being responsible, it will motivate them to remind each other. This means less work on my part because they will take it upon themselves to remind each other to do this or that so they can both earn money.

Do you reward them every time they do something responsible?

No. I make it clear from the beginning that I will not reward them every single time they are responsible but I will “catch them” in the act often. That being said, they will remind me from time to time but I just let them know that I am looking and they don’t need to point everything out. {Truth is, it’s nice to have that reminder!}

What if there are some things they still don’t do? 

This is my favorite part of the strategy…it’s really fun and effective. Each day write down a Big Responsibility Action. If your kids still aren’t making their bed, for instance, you would write:

Both kids made their bed.

At the end of the day you show them what the Big Responsibility Action is and if they did it, they get the amount of money that is in the envelope. You don’t have to open the envelope, just dump it in the jar and the kids can open them all at the end.

Each day, change the Big Responsibility Action but be sure to repeat each thing a few times so they get some wins. Ultimately, you want to use this to help them focus on tasks that are especially important or that they are forgetting to do by bringing extra attention to them.

Getting your kids to be responsible recap

Here, then, are the steps you’ll take to implement this yourself.

  1. Write down the responsible actions you would like to see your kids routinely do.
  2. Decide on a reward system and make it visible.
  3. Tell your kids about this new system and show them the list of actions you are looking for.
  4. Each day write down a Big Responsibility Action and add more money {or whatever your reward is} to the envelope.
  5. Throughout the day, notice your kids taking the actions you would like and acknowledge it while rewarding them with the money.
  6. At the end of the day reveal the Big Responsibility Action and add money or put aside.
  7. As time goes on, verbal acknowledgement will replace the monetary reward most of the time.