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Observing And Defining Behavior: Back To School

October 5, 2009
Times Observer

Now that the kids are back to school we can get back to our more normal routines. Summer is great but we all feel better when school starts. There is a sense of structure. Everyone has their jobs and responsibilities and everyone can “get back into the swing of things”.

It is nice to think that everyone will get “back in the swing of things” and take responsibility on their own. This may not happen. Now that school has started it is most important to help our kids with meeting their responsibilities. For instance, will our kids automatically complete their household chores or complete their homework on time? Some kids will because they have been trained well by you in the past. Others will not because they haven’t learned to be responsible yet. Kids need to be taught how to become more responsible and it is our job as parents to teach them. You can help teach your child by setting up structure.

We will use Amy today to help you learn how to set up structure for your child. Sit Amy down to discuss the new school year. Explain to Amy that you as a parent have the responsibility of sending her to school. You also have the responsibility of making sure she has food and clothes and a home to live in. Tell Amy that she also has a responsibility to do the best that she can at all times, go to school daily and on time. She also needs to listen to her teachers, learn what is being taught and doing what her teachers tell her she needs to do. This includes completing her homework and turning all her assignments on time. Tell Amy that you will help her to complete her assignments by setting up a homework hour.

Together, you and Amy can decide on what is the best time every day that she can do her homework when she has any. It is important for Amy to help decide the time. This makes her part of the plan and she will more likely follow the plan. Decide together what rewards Amy can earn when she completes her homework daily. Amy can let you know what she would like to earn weekly. The reward can be a trip to McDonalds on the weekend, a computer game, telephone time or just watching television or movies on DVD.

Now you need to set up some guidelines so that you have a method of checking and making sure that Amy is completing her assignments. First of all the use of an assignment book is necessary. Amy needs to list her assignments in her book daily. When she turns in her assignments she needs to have her teachers sign her book. Teachers are very willing to sign kid’s books because they know that parents are working with their kids to help them. Make a chart to post on the refrigerator so you and Amy can see it.

Each night you and Amy go over her homework. Put a check mark on her chart when she completes her assignments. Let her know that she needs to earn check marks in order to earn privileges or rewards. Whatever rewards Amy decided she wants to earn she can earn. You can start out with having Amy complete assignments all five days. If she is having trouble then you need to use maybe 4 days at first and then make her do more after a week or two. Remember you are setting up structure and it takes time to teach someone to be responsible. But you want to make sure that you are teaching them what they need to know. Kids tend to slack off and take the easy way. Our job is to help them to learn that they must complete their responsibilities so that they build character and succeed in life.

By setting up structure, using a chart and rewarding Amy, you are helping her to take her responsibility. Your goal is to help Amy do what is expected of her. This is a skill she will use in all areas of her life. By becoming more responsible you will help Amy take on her responsibility willingly. She will be learning to put structure in her life. The time is now to set up the homework hour. Don’t put it off and see if Amy completes homework on her own. Your job is to set the structure to help Amy learn to do what she needs to do. This is a preventive and positive way to get Amy to meet her responsibilities. You are making sure that you don’t have to set this up later on after Amy has failed to do her homework. Then you are working in a more negative environment. If you have had to get on Amy and have talked to her teachers, Amy will not be as receptive to the structure. It is much more successful teaching our children how to be more responsible before we have to engage in war to get them to do what is expected of them. Setting the structure up now at a neutral time before there are any problems will be helpful.

We need to help our kids learn how to be responsible and we can pick our times. It is always more successful to help our kids learn in a positive environment. By setting this plan up before Amy gets in trouble will help it be successful. Amy will feel good, you will feel good and her teachers will be please with her. And as a parent you are actively teaching more responsible behavior thus setting your child up for success. Remember to make learning fun.

Materials in this article come from my Book, “RESPECT, RESPONSIBILITY, REWARD, IS YOUR CHARACTER SHOWING”. Other books can be seen at Type in under author, Donna Jean Scanio, to see complete listing of books. For more information you can contact me by e-mail at (under subject type PG Magazine).

Material in this article taken from book “Respect, Responsibility, Reward”, “Is your Character Showing.” By Donna Jean Scanio

Please contact her at for permission to use in your publications. For a full listing of books by this author go to or her web page at

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