I don’t know what age it is that children suddenly start becoming responsible and stop losing their belongings. But I really hope it’s soon.
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N is a typical boy. He doesn’t really think about anything in advance. In fact he he really thinks anything for himself. Yes he can apply himself to building drawing or writing, eating and farming. But generally he’s in his own little world and it takes a lot of asking or telling before he will actually remember to do something.
As for school, we have a lot of weeks where no jumper will come home from school for a few days. Rhen he’ll bring all three or four home in his school bag at once. I don’t mind this so much, because at least they turn up at some point. Unlike the one water bottle which someone else must have picked up and taken home – 7 weeks later I spotted it being used at tennis, so snaffled it back.
What does get annoying is where he loses things or can’t see them in front of his nose. Then he blames someone else for him not remembering or not being able to find them.
N’s terrible for not being able to see in front of his nose (is that just a man thing because the OH’s the same?) If you ask him to look for something that is in the same room and in an obvious place, it will take him ages to spot it. Usually I have to point it out to him with clear instructions.
While we were on holiday in Bath, N managed to leave a coat on the bus, which we were unable to get back. We had got on the bus from the hotel into the city and it was muggy and hot. I took off my cardigan and put it in my bag, and N took his coat off too. But instead of giving it to me like he usually does, or at least putting it on his lap where we could see it he sat on it.. We got off the bus and just as we walked off I pointed out that he didn’t have his coat with him. Too late to catch the bus to tell it to stop. I flipped.
But would he take responsibility for his coat? No, N blamed me for not reminding him to pick it up despite the fact that I hadn’t noticed that he’d taken his coat off.. He didn’t seem to understand that children need to start looking after their own belongings and that a parent can’t remember everything especially when they’re trying to work out where they need to get off a bus in a city they don’t know.
I’m not ashamed to say that I did give him quite a bit of grief for it. What should have been a relaxing last evening going out for a nice meal, turned into a panic trying to track down where the bus might have gone to. Ringing the number on the bus stop sent us to the council, who sent us to the bus station way across town. When we arrived we were told our bus wasn’t one that was based at the bus station but one based 15 miles away. By this time it was after 5 o’clock, and apart from leaving a phone message, I was unable to do much about it until the next day.
We enjoyed our meal at Browns but I was still fuming about this coat. Yes it’s only a coat, but it was a fairly new coat, immaculate with his name in, and the only summer jacket he had. I didn’t really want to have to buy yet another item of clothing.
Luckily the bus company was only a small detour off our journey home, so I rang them again because they’d not replied to my voice mail. Unfortunately nothing was been handed in to lost property. I’ve not heard anything since, so despite a coat having someone’s name in it, an unscrupulous person has obviously picked it up and decided to keep it.
We’ve had to buy another jacket (at full price which is annoying). But I was more annoyed that N didn’t ever apologise for losing it. When he doesn’t want to look after something, he often says that as I bought it, I own it, therefore he doesn’t need to look after it. I’ve got no idea where he got this idea from but he’s going to have to learn pretty quick smart that he can’t have that attitude. He needs to start taking responsibility.
I then had a discussion with some of my online mum friends about this and how maybe I was being a bit hard on him. He didn’t get punished but he certainly heard my feelings on the matter. It hasn’t made much difference to him changing the way he looks after things.
I think by the age a child is 7 and going into Key Stage 2, they should start being able to look after their things. To be able to get their things ready for school and for other events. I’m sure when we were that age, we were capable of managing this.
One of my friends has a great way of training her boys to look after their belongings. I like the way she manages it. If they lose something they have to pay for it out of their pocket money to replace it. Sounds harsh, but children need to learn the value of money, how much items cost and how long it takes to earn something. N doesn’t have pocket money at the moment, so that wouldn’t work here. However the alternative is removal of screen time and that would. N was certainly horrified when I explained that these could be possibilities if he didn’t start looking after things better, taking responsibility and apologising if he did lose items.
So far since Coatgate, no items have been lost although I can’t say he knows where things are when I ask him to look for them. But hopefully he’s remembered how angry and upset it made me, and maybe it will make a difference next time.
How do you deal with your children if they’re terrible at losing things and not taking ownership?
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