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Elementary Aged Kids Your little ones have grown up right before your eyes! They are no longer those little babies they once were, and soon they are moving to adolescence.

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Old 02-20-2009, 05:58 PM
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How to deal with irresponsible child

My son is 11 and dealing with going through puberty. Along with this, he seems to be coming more of an irresponsible child and I'm at my wits end on how to deal with it.

He misplaces or loses things day after day. So far this year he's lost 2 juice boxes for his lunch bag and a sandwich container and at least 2 days a week he leaves his lunch box at school.

Now he's lost the winter jacket he got for Christmas. He has no idea whether he left it on the bus or somewhere else at school...etc.

This is just the short end of the whole story but I'm looking for ideas on how to deal with this. In the past, I've replaced the things (such as the juice boxes) but now I want him to understand that I'm not going to run out and replace his coat. (he is not without a coat, he has another jacket that he's been wearing.)

Has anyone had to deal with something like this with their child? How did you handle it?

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Old 02-27-2009, 07:49 AM
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I think at this age, children just loose things, now big ticket items like jackets, coats, boots, remind them that you cannot replace these items if they are lost. It worked for my sons...but losing gloves, and hats is always a problem.

If your son lost his jacket on a school bus, check your schools lost & found box.

Good Luck!
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Old 02-27-2009, 08:43 AM
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Tami, my husband is still like this and he's 42! My daughter is a lot like him. My Big DS, is to some extent and he knows, at 17, that this is not a good thing and it bothers him.

To some degree I think it is a personality thing, especially since my DD and DH are very much alike personality-wise.

She "lost" her iPod (gift from Grandpop) at her friend's house. It was missing for over a year before her friend found it. She has left countless sweatshirts at school, never to be found again. Her big brother is taking bets about how long it will take before she loses her cell phone. If she does, we won't be replacing it and SHE KNOWS THAT.

Her chore today is to clean out all the junk she left in the back of my van when we went away last weekend.

I'd stop giving him lunchboxes and just make him carry a brown bag. If that means he doesn't get to have a COLD drink, well, too bad. If he can prove that he is able to be responsible in other ways, then give him back the lunchbox.

Part of the problem is that once the kids hit middle-school age, the teachers do less of that structured reminder thing that the kids come to depend on. At the end of the day, the teacher is not telling the children to pack their homework, bring home their lunchbox, put on their coat and hat.

Maybe you could put a laminated "checklist" on a keyring that is attached to his backpack but kept in a pocket. He can check the list before packing to go home. Jacket, lunchbox, homework, planner. He can use the same list in the morning to get ready.

I make it a policy not to "rescue" my children by going back to school for what they forget. I also won't bring things to school if they forgot it in the morning--with the exception of lunch for my younger kids, because there is no provision for that at school.

When my DS was in about 5th grade and really bad about forgetting stuff, if he didn't bring home his planner every day he forfeited his computer-game time for that day. That made a big difference with him.
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Old 02-27-2009, 10:08 AM
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My dd was like that and I did stop rescueing her. It took a while but she finally learned she had to remember the basics or do without.
She is an adult now and still forever loosing her car keys and such. I figure if it doesnot bother enough to find a way it is not my problem.
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Old 02-27-2009, 10:21 AM
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Going through puberty is such a hard time for kids - There are so many things running through their little minds, that it's hard to keep track of everything - My 13 year old son is just starting to remember things but it took awhile - My 45 Year old husband still has troubles though!!! LOL - Maybe little post it notes in his lunch box or next to things that he uses would help & when he does remember things, make sure that you praise him for it!!!
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Old 02-27-2009, 02:47 PM
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Both my DH's (then 12 y/o) nephew and I have something in common with your son - we are all forgetful (or blind - you know item in front of your face, but you don't see it).

The trick with my nephew though, is that his mom used sewn in name tags and markers (where clothes didn't touch his skin) as to whose clothes were his. She also made a list of the items he took to school, AND asked his school teacher's to assist her with making sure his HW arrived home every night or to check off a box on pre-printed assignment sheets. As for his "special" items (baseball collector items, etc), his parents showed him a general price tag for what each of his items cost, and had him write up a list (also in plain view) of who, where, and when the itam was loaned out to or placed where (friend, closet, box, etc), then explained that any time he misplaced the item(s) he was out what ever the price of the item is - no refunds.
Like you, they also made him wear an older warm jacket until he either found his newer one or weather permitted. They also asked that the family support them in this decission.

As for myself, as a child I was perpetually losing things. It wasn't that they didn't have a worth to me, it was more that I was a slob and knew where everything was - unless I had to clean it up (with the threat of having items thrown/given away), then I would manage to lose things. Now as an adult, I try to leave daily notes as to where I need to be, what time, and what I am taking with me. But on rare occassions things I put in a special place does have a tendency to get moved without my knowledge. Case in point, I put a small thin camera chip on a counter in our house after spending the day w/Family, but when I went back to get it it was not where I had placed. Months later I am moving furniture (complete vs general house cleaning) around and under one of our couches is the camera chip. Now I am not one to normally blame animals (our only cat) for my mistakes - but how on earth can anyone else explain why I would have placed the camera chip there?

As for the lunch items (newer items) missing, there could be more to that then meets the eye. Granted it could be general forgetfulness, or it could be that he is being bullied at school or on the bus. A lot of kids do get bullied and do not say anything, thinking their parents punishment is better then what the bully is doing. I agree with Barb though, too. If it is a bully that is causing your sone tolose those smaller items and not the whole lunch box - let him brown bag it and drink water instead.

Most importantly, try to put yourself in his shoes, and ask him to help you figure out some solutions to help him remember his "stuff." This way you aren't stressing out as much, and he is forced to take responsibility for his actions.

If he gets an allowance, deduct the (blue book) price from his allowance. If he complains, just say sorry, but that is what you are using to replace the item(s) that are gone. And if isn't getting an allowance start him on what so you can deduct the money. A kid is age should be able to help with some of the chores around the house for a couple of bucks around (no more then five dollars).

I grew up with chores and got $.25 a week at age seven(7), and my chores consisted of making my bed; cleaning my room; setting/clearing the table and/or putting away/washing the dishes, and helping with yard work on weekends. Some days my parents would throw in emptying the waste bins/cans - depending if I wanted something extra in my allowance (for out door camp, friends gifts, etc). As I got older, there were more chores and less pay. LOL

Children though need to learn responsibility from their own families, and unfortunately a lot of families are relying on the schools to do it.

As I mentioned above, talk with your son, and get him to help you with this situation. Not only does it show him that you know he's growing up, and are trying to trust him, but that it is also the first step in "letting" him grow up.

Sorry this is so long, and I hope it helps you both. ;-)

Good Luck & HUGs~
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Old 02-27-2009, 06:17 PM
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Everyone has said it so well here. Making your child responsible for himself is a difficult lesson, especially if you're the personality type that "fixes" things. This is actually enabling his behavior.

You have to set the expectations, prepare him to meet them, and then let him do it. He will. He'll figure it out, modify your method, or even do it his own way, but he'll do it. That's sometimes the hardest part. They may not go about it the way we want them to, but we have to remember that the end result is what we are after.

You want him to remember and be responsible. It doesn't matter if that happens with notes to himself, writing on the back of his hand or doing without something. As long as he learns to do it.

Hang in there. You are NOT alone!
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Old 02-28-2009, 06:07 AM
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mythree, you are so right about when the parent is the kind of person that "fixes" things.

That is me, completely. And my DH has already told me that I'm not allowed to die first, because if I did, he'd never be able to find his stuff.

I am trying very hard not to be like this with the kids, because I want them to grow up to be more independent.
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Old 02-28-2009, 08:09 AM
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I think when we become "mothers" we become the person that our children come to with their problems, broken toys, cuts & bumps,or when they are sick...we become the person to fix and make things better.

Our job is to teach our kids how to be responsible for their rooms, homework, and their "stuff".We instill a good work ethic, and teach them to obey God's laws and respect all authorities including the Laws of Man.

Even as our children grow up, leave our home, they still to know, they have a safe, soft place to fall back on, when needed.

Just my thoughts.

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Don't Keep it.
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Old 02-28-2009, 10:17 AM
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I learned, when my kids were about your kids' ages, that the more I think for them, the less they will think for themselves. I read the book, "Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World," by Glenn and Nelson. It's the only self improvement book that ever made me feel terrible about my parenting. It discussed how parents rush to bring kids their coats when it gets cold at school because the child forgot it, the parent brings the child his lunch or lunch money for the same reason, and so on. It mentioned that when parents don't allow their children to think for themselves, their brains don't develop properly so that will ever be able to think for themselves. It was a pretty serious discussion. The authors discussed NOT bringing your child his lunch if he forgets it. If the child misses one meal, it will not kill him because he will learn to think for himself and when he grows up, he won't have problems as an adult who can't keep up with his stuff.

Anyway, I am sure that you can get the 1st edition and maybe the 2nd at the library. I really liked what these authors stated about brain development as well as your child being about to manage his life as an adult once his parents have been doing all his thinking for him during his life.

I have learned the hard way not to rescue my children. Let them suffer the consequences of their behavior while they are young and he consequences aren't too bad and he has loving parents to work with him.

Good luck!
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