Raise your hand if you would use the term “responsible” to describe your 5 year old!!
By the show of hands, it seems that NONE of you feel that way. Don’t worry, You are in good company.
I have been working DILIGENTLY (and I do mean diligently) to instill responsibility in my kid. Not only with his personal belongings, but also with himself and the things that he is involved in.
He wakes up to an alarm clock each morning; dresses himself; brushes his teeth; finds his shoes and then makes sure his bag is good to go for the day, whether its sports, or swimming or whatever, he checks to make sure his stuff is there. I assist, but he spearheads these activities each morning, which frees up some of my time to take care of other things – including myself.
Before we leave the house, he is tasked to feed the dog and put water in his bowl. When we return to the house, he is again given the same task. Each day I have to remind him to feed the dog. It is always a gentle reminder, never stern or “telling”. I figured using gentle language would get him to want to take care of the dog as opposed to feeling like it was something thrown on him.
A few days go by and mom brain happens and I forget to tell Daniel to feed the dog. So in the moments when I remember to remind him, his response is “I already did it!” I was astonished at his level of responsibility and concern with caring for the dog. He was very responsive to making sure the dog had food and water. I was very proud.
When I was his age, my mother was opposed to having pets. She did not like dogs nor cats and she did not want them in her house, no matter how much we begged. I grew up looking after my brothers and sisters, but thats completely different. People can communicate their needs to you, straightaway. Dogs cannot do so.
I think it is so important for my buddy to have a four legged buddy. They sleep together every night and one cannot sleep without the other. The nights that Daniel spends with his father, Simon (our Mini-Pinscher Dachshund mix) paces the floor and sits in the window until he tires himself out. I just let him sleep with me because I feel bad for the guy. If Daniel retires to bed and Simon is not nearby, he calls for him, patting his little leg with his little hand. They are best friends.
But whats more important than that is that this kid knows there is more to having a dog than chasing after him and trying to ride him. He cares about what he eats, if he is feeling ok and he has a desire to want to make his little life better.
It can’t get any better than that, and I don’t think he would have learned this lesson if I would’ve been able to keep those guppies alive.