In more ways than one, we, millennial parents surprisingly end up sounding like our parents and we continue with many of their traditions. Let’s face it, the kid inside of us just doesn’t completely let go. This might mean that each of us has both similar and different techniques of raising our children and that’s just fine! Thus, note that in this article, there is no defined “correct” way to teach our kids responsibility; I am simply sharing my own way with you. And yes, some of these I have learned from my parents, thereby carrying on the tradition.
Routine and Structure: I teach at the same school that my older two daughters attend so in the mornings, my kids and I get ready for school together. My husband is excused from having to get up as he runs on a different work schedule and my daughters and I attend the same school together. As for my youngest, it’s my husband who drops her off at nursery.
Before all of this, whilst on maternity leave, morning routines became challenging for my husband and me. I needed sleep! My children had a difficult time letting go of their dependency on me. I explained to them that things would change and they needed to learn how to get ready on their own in the morning. Fortunately for me, my oldest could read so I wrote a checklist of things to do, accompanied by images, and stuck it up on the refrigerator with magnets:
1.Use the bathroom (flush and wash your hands)
2.Brush your teeth
3.Brush your hair
4.Put on face cream
6.Take your lunch
7.Put on your socks and shoes
8.Put on your jackets
9.Take your backpacks (check that you have everything inside)
Discipline: Most times, children don’t take “No” for an answer; at least, mine don’t! They are always asking “Why” and we need to answer them as logically and calmly as possible based on their level of understanding. It’s also okay to replace the word “No” with “What you can do, instead, is….” “No candy or sweets except on the weekend because it’s bad for your teeth and the dentist recommends it.” If my kids ask me on a weekday, “Can I have candy today, please?” then I tell them, “That would mean no candy on Saturday,” which usually discourages them.
Sometimes, if I take something away from them, I provide an alternative choice for example, “No candy today, but you can have juice or grapes!” In doing this, we set boundaries and children slowly develop their own. As a result, they ask for permission, “Can I have a snack?” “Can I play games now?” “Can I watch something on my tablet now?”
Reward: We often use words like, “Good job!” “I am so proud of you!” “You’re so smart! “You’ve just taught me something new!” “You’re so creative!” “I wish I could do that!” These statements are rewarding on their own. Even on weekends, we like to use candy or ice cream as a reward for ex. “After you organize your books on your bookshelf, you can have ice cream!” Sometimes, our kids ask for rewards, “Daddy, if we clean the dining table and kitchen floor today, will you tell us a long bedtime story?” He never has the heart to say “No” because “One day, they won’t ask anymore.” In asking for rewards, our kids realize that they need to accomplish something in order to gain something.
Economy: We give our children an allowance and encourage them to spend it on things that they need. We have also taught them how to shop: they now look at prices and ask questions like “How much does this cost?” “Is it worth it?” “Do you think this is a good sale?” “Do I really need this?”