Feel like you are constantly nagging your child to study for her tests, finish her homework, clean up her room, or take out the trash? Is your child lacking in taking responsibility for all that she has to get accomplished?
You are not alone. Most moms find themselves from time to time nagging, demanding, begging, or yelling in frustration at their child to do what is asked of her. Sometimes you do the task yourself because it’s just easier!
Teaching your tween or teen child responsibility is a tall order, so I feel for you.
I bet you’d be surprised if you took an inventory of all the responsibilities your child has to do you’d find how much she is doing already.
Check out all the things your child is responsible for on a DAILY basis:
• Homework assignments, class presentations, studying, test taking
• Developing good character including kindness, patience, caring, respect
• Following through on all things you ask her to do at home
• Maintaining a positive (or at least neutral) relationship with siblings
• Completing chores around the house
• Navigating peer drama at school and online, staying away from negative peer influence
• Practicing and attending extracurricular activities
With all that in mind let’s talk about how you can encourage your child’s responsibility AND end the nagging, yelling, berating, or giving in and doing it yourself.
Check out these 7 key points to remember as you teach your child how to be a more responsible young adult.
1. Know that your child may be overwhelmed with life and not know where to begin. Consider whether it’s possible that it’s impossible for your child to do everything within all the hours of the day. Have a conversation first with your child to make sure that all that you are asking of your child is even humanly possible.
2. Don’t use words like “ungrateful,” “inconsiderate,” or “irresponsible,” when trying to motivate your child to be more responsible. It’s too harsh, not effective, and can only serve to increase your child’s internal critic and the distance between you two. When this happens, that further causes your child to lash out at you, and/or blame herself. Then nothing gets accomplished!
3. Your child might be procrastinating because she wants to complete her task perfectly. Have her focus on just the first step, without emphasis on “getting it right” the first time.
4. Help her prioritize the tasks and set a deadline for task completion. She might struggle with knowing what to do first, or have a different opinion than you about what’s important. Have a conversation so the two of you get on the same page.
5. Discuss with your child why she has difficulty following through. There may be some genuine obstacles in her way that you don’t know about. Take them seriously and help her gently and lovingly through each one.
6. Be mindful of any anxiety your child has. Could she be anxious about attempting or completing the task? Anxiety is debilitating at times and can be a serious part of why your child isn’t initiating a task or following through on her responsibilities.
7. Don’t enable your child by doing tasks for her. It’s tempting to do part of her project because she’s overwhelmed or you fear she’ll get a bad grade. But rescuing your child from her responsibility only encourages her to not try the next time.
Bottom line: It’s difficult to get your child to listen and follow thru on all her daily tasks. Taking a compassionate look at what’s going on in your child’s mind can help you partner together instead of battle against each other.
If you’ve found that you or child’s stress has become just so overwhelming that you would like to reach out for help and support, do not hesitate to reach out.
Jenmarie Eadie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. She received her Master’s in Social Work from Arizona State with a dual concentration in Children, Youth, and Families; and Behavioral Health. Her proudest accomplishment is following her dream of opening up a practice that is designed to focus on the whole family. She currently serves families in Southern California.