How is it that some of us can work so hard to build responsible and respectful children, and actually have the opposite unfold?  We seem to keep harping on homework, and they keep battling. And it feels like it’s become our job—rather than theirs.
Or we want them to start picking up their room and helping around the house, and yet they just “yes” us until we give up. Or perhaps we are off to take the kids to practice and they drag their feet; we end up screaming and yelling to get things rolling (while finding their cleats and loading their stuff—once again.
We model healthy, responsible behavior. We get up every morning, take care of the business of running a home and a family, and yet our children show few signs of “getting it.” By this, I mean that they just don’t seem to accept responsibility for their lives, they seem unable to take responsibility for “their stuff” and they show no signs of wanting the responsibility that comes with maturity. They won’t even take responsibility (often) for their mistakes. 

Let’s do it differently this year: Getting real about what needs to be done
If we want good homework habits, with respectful children who help out around the house and effortlessly take care of their own “stuff,” we must recognize the reality of shaping these healthy habits. 
Reality check 1:  Good parent examples are not enough. When it comes to building responsible habits in our children, there is one truth that you must come to accept.  It is not enough to just be a good role model. 
Most of us do a good job of showing our children how to be responsible. This is not the problem.  The problem occurs because many of us actually take TOO MUCH responsibility.
Reality check 2:  We often take too much responsibility for their success. The growing tendency is for parents to take more and more responsibility for our children.
We sprint home to locate their missing homework or soccer shoes and arrive late to work so that they don’t feel any loss.
We will stay up late, losing sleep and peace of mind, while working on that school project with them—knowing that they spent hours playing and ignored the project. We let them keep their room a mess until we clean it up, rather than teaching them to take responsibility for their environment.
We will cart them to three different events on Saturday so that they have fun and activity, while never asking them to help out around the house.
Bottom line:  We (often) end up working harder at their responsibilities than they do!  We must abandon this if we are to help them become responsible. 
Reality check #3:  More or better words won’t fix this. Action is required.
I never find struggling parents arriving at my office with a paucity of good words! In fact, most have offered more lectures, more coaching, and more nagging/prodding than I can fathom. If more words worked to teach responsibility, then I would likely be out of business—as would most psychologists. 
The real point here is that an action plan is required where you intentionally use very few words, and instead focus on a system to get results. Not an excuse, or a promise but rather real results.
While the school year is launching, this is the time to seek out a parenting plan driven by results, rather than more talking or more promises. Over the next eight weeks, I will be offering an abundance of school sponsored talks to help you establish an effective, action-oriented parenting plan. By checking in with, you will find the dates and times of these free talks or you can get updates by following me on Facebook and Twitter. 
Dr. Randy Cale offers practical guidance for a host of parenting concerns. For more information visit


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