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Daughter doesn't put things away

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Syndicated column from The Parent Institute

[OCT. 17, 2005]  Q: My daughter doesn't put her bike or other things away. I'm tired of picking up after her. How can I make her put her things away and just be more responsible?

A: Like many children, your daughter has grown conveniently deaf to reminding, nagging, scolding and lecturing. Save your words and energy for a more effective strategy. Children can't learn to be responsible unless their parents give them responsibilities. If you are constantly reminding and nagging about a responsibility -- or sometimes doing the task for your daughter -- you are still assuming that responsibility.

Daily checklists are a good way to teach kids responsible work habits. Adults use them. Some of us even have multiple lists -- one for the office, another for shopping and still a third for home and family chores. We use checklists to organize our busy lives and to make sure we meet our responsibilities. Here's how you can teach your daughter to do the same:

  • Sit down with your daughter and decide which responsibilities she's ready to handle on her own.

  • Define her responsibilities clearly. It's easier for children to plan and complete tasks if they understand what's expected of them.

  • Make a list of all her daily responsibilities. Leave a couple of blank lines at the bottom of the list for things that come up at the last minute. Make multiple copies by hand or on a copy machine.

  • Spend a minute or two, once a day, to have her mark the items she needs to take care of that day. As each item is accomplished, she can feel good about checking it off!

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  • Go over the list when there's still time for her to take care of forgotten items -- an hour before bedtime, for example. After using this checklist for a few weeks, many tasks, like putting her bike away, will probably become second nature.

  • Be consistent. Make sure everyone understands that responsibility is important in your home.

Feel good about giving your daughter duties. Sometimes parents feel guilty about asking their children to help out at home. But there are important reasons why children should share the family work load. It builds a feeling of family. Even more importantly, teachers say that children who have learned to accept jobs at home are better able to accept being in charge of their own learning. When children help out at home, they develop a sense of responsibility that will carry over to school… and later life.

[The Parent Institute]

For more information about helping children learn or to submit your own question, go to All questions will receive a prompt answer by e-mail.

Copyright © 2005, The Parent Institute.

"Ask the Learning Advisor -- Ideas for Raising Successful Children" is a free, syndicated column from the Parent Institute.

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