Cool Kids Lessons and Videos on Responsibility

"Following Directions"
"Getting Work Done"
"Joe the Janitor on Following Directions: K-2"
"Setting Goals"
"Joe the Janitor on Goals for Learning: K-2"

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How to Encourage Responsibility in the Classroom, by Dr. Brad Schwall

Online version of these tips:

Failing to complete work, a lack of organization, and difficulty following through with responsibilities have a variety of causes.  All students have different levels of motivation.  They also may face various learning challenges or lack the skills needed for organization.  Consider their motivation level and challenges and brainstorm ideas for increasing their ability to complete work on time.  Get the student involved in developing a plan for completing work as she may be more motivated to follow through if she has thought of the solutions. 

  • Define the goal - is the focus getting work done on time, turning it in, making it neat?
  • Make a simple, step-by-step plan for catching up if needed.  Set a deadline for completion.
  • Develop routines for the student to write down assignments and check work.
  • Parents and teachers need to communicate to hold the student accountable.
  • Establish consequences directly related to time management and privileges that might interfere with completing work.
  • Inform the student of the consequences for not completing the work.
  • Consistently enforce the established consequences.

The goal is an intrinsic locus of control.  When students blame others or circumstances for failure to fulfill responsibilities, they have an extrinsic locus of control.  Adults nurture this focus on blaming outside forces for irresponsibility when they try to motivate based only on consequences and a "make me happy" approach rather than guiding the student to develop skills and ownership of the problem.  Help students develop an intrinsic locus of control by guiding them to set a goal, make the plan for achieving the goal, and enforcing consequences.

  • Have the student identify the problem.
  • Have the student define a goal.
  • Inform the student of the specific consequences of not doing the work.
  • Help the student see that improvement is possible.
  • Focus on incremental successes.
  • Emphasize to the student the positive and negative consequences of completing or not completing work.

The skill, "Get it Done," taught in the Cool Kids resources provides students with a strategy for being responsible.  To download a "Responsibility Guide" to use with students, go to


©  2012 Dr. Brad Schwall, Author Cool Kids Resources for Schools and Parents.  Permission granted for re-distribution of these tips.  The Cool Kids resources help schools develop positive learning environments, children build character, and parents effectively parent their children.  Sign up to receive free parenting tips: Parenting Tips 


    © Dr. Brad Schwall - Cool Kids. All Rights Reserved.

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