Who Owns the Problem

Who Owns the Problem?

I find it disturbing when I encounter a child in my class who forgets to bring in his/her homework or the important document that a parent needs to  sign for the school administration.  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 child.   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 for irresponsibility, lack of organization and sloppiness,  the consequences should depend on who is affected by the child’s forgetting.  If children forget things which do not involve you, the parent, my take is non- interference.  Let the child learn his lesson and receive consequences, usually from the teacher. You’ll  be hearing from most teachers if this becomes a habit.  For example, the student  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 often  the parent will show up and be extremely inconvenienced.    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  low grade or Friday afternoon school to make the work up as a consequence for not being prepared .

Don Dinkmeyer author of ‘The Effective Parent,’ Circle Press 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’s fitting.”

Also, as a rule Mr. Dinkmeyer states,  “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.