Who Owns the Problem?

I find it disturbing that oftentimes I encounter a child in my class who forgets to bring in his homework or the important document a parent must sign.  I find myself wondering how it is that the parent didn’t check the book bag or the child’s agenda, or ask the child what assignments were due.  Then, I stop myself from this way of thinking because after all, the parent isn’t the guilty culprit, it’s the kid.  I’m speaking of children beyond the elementary level.

If you as a parent have to remind, coax, nag, threaten, and finally punish your child, the consequences should depend on who is affected by the child’s forgetting.  If children forget things which do not involve you, the parent, don’t interfere.  Let the child learn his lesson and receive consequences, say from the teacher.  For example, the child may forget to bring his book, or money for lunch, or a variety of items like writing materials.  I’ve seen kids call their parents and demand that they bring the lunch or the missing item, and 9 times out of 10, the parent will show up.  I can’t help but think this is a big inconvenience to most. In this example, the consequences should occur in the school.  Therefore, the problem should not be yours.  And, how horrible would it be if your child missed a lunch, if that disappointment improved his organizational skills?  How terrible would it be if the child received a detention slip for not being prepared with homework once again.   I’ve certainly written many myself.

Author, Don Dinkmeyer, states, “If their forgetting gets in the way of your peace of mind, then you own the problem.  Obviously, the consequences you design depend upon the situation.  Find one that fits the child’s forgetting.”

Also, as a rule parents shouldn’t interfere in the relationships between their child and other people.  Non-interference is made easier by recognizing who owns the problem, and by allowing children to learn from their own decisions.


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