What exactly does your kid do or say that is irresponsible? For instance, does he not take care of his things? Not take care of other people's possessions? Not finish assignments? Not start assignments? Misplace or lose items? Fail to wake up without constant reminders? Need coaxing, yelling, or bribing to finish chores or expect someone to do them for him? On a scale of one to ten, if you tell your child to do something, how often can he be counted on to follow through and keep his word? The more specific you are in your diagnosis, the more effective you will be in creating a makeover plan.
Why. Why does your kid have this attitude? What does he gain from it? For instance, does he get out of doing jobs or assignments? Does someone pick up the pieces for him? Does it save him from the possibility of failure or embarrassment? Is it just plain easier? Have you been irresponsible toward him? Has he ever been taught to be responsible? Does everyone in your family pull their own weight? What has your kid learned from being irresponsible?
What. What issues or things is he more prone to be irresponsible over? For instance, is it about homework? Library books? Chores? Personal possessions? Other people's property? Clothes? Sports equipment? Curfews? Appointments?
Who. Does he display the same attitude to everyone? Are there some individuals he is more likely to flaunt this attitude on—for instance, a teacher, coach, grandparents? Why do you think he flaunts it toward some people and not others?
When. Is there a particular time he is more prone to use this attitude: Right before school? Dinner? Chores? Homework time? Soccer game? If so, what might be the reason?
Where. Are there certain places he is more likely to be irresponsible (at school or day care, home, scouts, play group, Uncle Al's)? Why?
How. What is the typical way your kid displays his attitude when he is irresponsible? For instance, does he blame someone else? Make up an excuse? Lie? Con someone into doing it for him? Expect someone to take care of the problem he caused? Feign ignorance? Defy your requests? Appear not to care? Accuse you of being irresponsible (you didn't remind him, wake him up, put the item back)?
Now take a look at your answers. Are you seeing any predictable patterns? What is your best diagnosis of why your kid has learned this attitude? Confer with other adults who know your kid well to see if they agree. Keep one thing in mind: he uses the attitude because it works. What can you do to teach him it does not work? Now let's look at how you respond to your kid's attitude.
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