Occasional Visitor
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎01-31-2014

Teaching Responsibility for decisions

Looking to get a bit of a feel for opinion out there over a difference of opinion between my partner and I.


Our 7 & 1/2 year old daughter left her cardigan at school (for the upteenth time) on thursday. This morning she was getting ready for school and could not find a replacement cardigan. I want to, as much as possible, make her responsible for her own actions so I explained to her it was cold outside and was really looking for her to

She said she did not have another school cardigan clean (which is not true but she couldnt find it at the time) and that 'Miss' wouldnt want her in a non-school cardigan. I left her to it thinking that I want to teach her responsibility for the cardigan so it should be her that faces the choice of 1. going to school in non-school uniform and facing the teacher's ire, 2. Taking the time to find the other cardigan, 3. getting cold on the way to school.


Now - For clarity, the temperature IS cold outside. It is above freezing but only just. With that said she had a winter coat, tights, vest, school polo shirt, school pinafore, etc, on. To my mind she may 'feel' cold without the cardigan but we are not talking 'dangerous' or illness-inducing by ANY stretch of the imagination! (correct me if i am wrong!)


My partner, however, vehemently disagrees with my decision. My partners view is that it was too cold to have her go outside without the cardigan regardless of the circumstances and that it was my responsibility to enforce this.

Posts: 31
Registered: ‎08-02-2013

Re: Teaching Responsibility for decisions

It is important the parent convey the lesson to the child that they must take initiative and learn to think for themselves. Teaching values to children is an important part of a parent's responsibility. But in situation like yours, you must not send your child outside without cardigan in this cold weather. She may fall ill.

Occasional Contributor
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎02-06-2014

Re: Teaching Responsibility for decisions

Teaching responsibility for choice is an ongoing issue.  We all have to account for our choices in ways we choose or ways other's choose FOR us.  I agree that at the age your child is and the whether situation, she must have something to keep her warm.  However, the accountability factor could be such that "because you didn't take the time to prepare your clothes in advance, I will give you an alternative choice:  You may wear this jacket today, but when you get home, I will need you to give me 30 minutes of extra study time."  That way she learns there are always consequences.  Teaching honor,integrity and taking responsibility for choice is difficult to teach consistently because we want to solve their problems.  BUT I learned of a great parenting program that seems to come with a built-in consistency factor and helps the parent teach just about any kind of behavior, social skill, and responsibility easily.  It is called:  The Happy Face Token System.  You get step-by-step tips on how to set family rules and create accountabilty in ways the child understands.  It helps the parent take charge in a positive and effective way that shows they mean what they say and the child learns self-motivation and wants to find ways to improve skills, talents and family relationships.  This family program is made for those looking to find JOY in the JOurney of parenthood with all kinds of ideas, charts and concepts.  Maybe something will click for you here and


Occasional Visitor
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎02-08-2014

Re: Teaching Responsibility for decisions

[ Edited ]

Teaching responsibility is very important. I think over-coddling children and failing to teach basic principles such as manners, responsibility, empathy, and common decency are current trends contributing to many societal problems. These early lessons make a huge difference later in life in areas including the ability to hold gainful employment, maintain relationships, and general productivity in the community. Many parents seem to take protectiveness to such extremes that the children’s emotional and cognitive growth become stunted.



To answer your question, I would probably send her to school in a non-school cardigan to prevent illness. Let her face the teachers' wrath.... She will have to explain what happened and own-up to her (recurring) mistake. This will create some mild cognitive dissonance, which could psychologically motivate her to change her behavior (Unfortunately, it could also work the other way – to stop caring about what the teacher thinks; See ). I believe that cognitive dissonance, if used carefully, can be a healthy and useful parenting tool.



Second, I would have her clean her room properly, preferably that night, but at least by the following weekend. Have her do the laundry, or at least pile it together, organize her closets (because she has a spare that she could not find), and begin a routine of preparing her clothes/supplies for the next day the previous night.



This consequence will teach owning-up to your mistakes, help solve the disorganization problem, and help to prevent last minute searches for missing items on the way out the door. Hopefully, this lesson will prevent her from forgetting her cardigan at school in the first place (lest she need to reorganize her room again). Keeping the consequence closely tied to the behavioral problem seems to help the lesson sink in. 



I recently had a problem with my five year old "forgetting" her homework. The first couple of times I figured that it was just her age. At least one of those times, the teacher was out sick and she had a substitute teacher. The third time, I saw a troublesome pattern forming. I notified the teacher of the issue and made sure the homework was made-up. I created homework in the area most in need of attention and put her on restriction from screen time for a week. It wasn't about the homework grade, because in kindergarten homework doesn't account for much of the grade. I suspected that after the first two times (Which I do believe were mistakes and mix-ups), she connected "no homework equals more free time, equals more screen time." To prevent an ongoing problem, I took away the motivator and made clear that "forgetting" is not an excuse for not doing the work. She ended up doing more work by forgetting to bring home the original work.



Hope this helps! Good luck on your parenting adventure. :smileyhappy:  



*Edited to correct link

Occasional Contributor
Posts: 11
Registered: ‎12-04-2013

Re: Teaching Responsibility for decisions

I would keep it simple and as natural as possible.  If she actually has a cardigan at school, let her find it ( at school) and put in on at school. If she ends up wearing the same one everyday- so what? If she doesn't care, why should you?  She is only 7, not 14. She will care one day, and it will be of her own choice and realization compared to your adult imposed one. That has much better impact in the end, and in the long term.  Her learning, is not a race, it's a journey. Work with her.  If the school punishes, she doesn't need it twice, she needs your support.

New Contributor
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎02-11-2014

Re: Teaching Responsibility for decisions

Just a little info how this happened to us and how we handled it. Around Christmas time we went on a family trip to a cold state park (camping/RVing), Stone Mountain, GA. We had our snow tubing time scheduled for 4pm. We got out of the car at 3:30 and had just enough time to get there. My daughter yells, "I don't have my jacket" (she had a lightweight cotton jacket on). Her daddy and I were not happy! So, our play time was for two hours, and she said she didn't need her we said ok. I know she had to be cold but continued to deny it. I can assure you she has not forgotten her jacket anymore...and guess what? She didn't get sick and she is still alive! She learned a lesson and it didn't hurt her one bit. Hope that puts it into perspective a little.
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