Tired of replacing lunch boxes that get left in the school yard or lost in the lunch room? Do you wonder why your child isn’t more responsible in looking after their possessions?
Well, this issue presents an interesting paradox:
Children are not responsible because parents have not yet giving them responsibility, and parents have not yet given them responsibility because they see their children are not yet responsible.
Getting the lunch box to school
First, let go of this responsibility yourself:
Two people cannot be responsible for the lunch box — give it up so you free your child to pick up this responsibility.
"Never do for a child what a child can do for themselves"
– Dr Rudolph Dreikurs
Stop carrying their lunch bag around the house, to the car, across the school yard. If they ask you to, reply positively with one of the following:
- "That’s your job"
- "Your lunch box is your responsibility"
- "You are capable of looking after that yourself"
If you notice they have left their lunch box on the floor — proceed without it. If they see you are no longer concerning yourself with their lunch box and you don’t remind them or pick it up for them, they will either run back for it or go hungry for a few hours. Now there is motivation to not forget your lunch box!
Mistakes Are Opportunities To Learn
If they complain that they forget their lunch and were hungry, don’t lecture and moralize about the mistake. Instead stay future-focused and let them know you have faith that they can handle this and ask: "What might help you remember tomorrow?"
You can help them brainstorm: "Maybe a note on the door? Or maybe put your lunch by your coat?"
Getting the lunch box home
State What YOU Are Willing To Do
Explain (in a kind tone) "Your lunch box is your responsibility. I am willing to buy you one a year, but after that you will need use your allowance to replace it if it gets lost. If that is not how you choose to spend your savings, you can always just pack your lunch into a plastic bag. You decide what works best for you, but I am no longer in charge of your lunch box. I know you can manage that on your own, you are very capable."
This should come across as a way of showing a vote of confidence in them to be responsible. This is NOT a demonstration of being so fed up that we’ve thrown our hands up and said "that’s it I’ve had it!"
Good luck! If you master the lunchbox it should spill over to mittens and scarves!