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to expect an 11 year old to be able to take some responsibility for herself?

(87 Posts)
RainbowDashed Mon 16-Nov-15 14:16:33

My eldest is 11, just started secondary school this year. I KNOW that it's a big adjustment and we've tried to help her be more organised but honestly, she's so bloody dippy, her mind seems to be elsewhere ALL THE FUCKING TIME


I have had two texts from her today, one asking me to take her a plastic tub to the bus stop for food tech as she hadn't remembered to bring one herself. I didn't get the text until after the bus had gone, and I was busy getting dd2 and myself out of the door at the time anyway, a detour to the bus stop would have made me late for work so I couldn't have done it anyway. Then at break time I get another text asking me to drop one at school - this is the school that's almost an hour's drive from where I work - by the time I'd gone home, found her tub, got it to school and then driven back to work it would have taken the best part of 2 hours, the 50 miles worth of petrol notwithstanding. So I said no. (She has found one now apparently so problem solved). She KNEW she had food tech today. I'd helped her gather the ingredients. All she had to do for herself was remember a tub.

Yesterday I sent her to find a table in a shopping centre food hall, she came back to tell me that there was one in the corner, should she sit there? Well, erm, YES, that's why I sent you. By the time she wandered slowly back to the seating area the table had been taken and we had to wait ages for a seat. Lovely cold burger and chips.

We were away this weekend Christmas shopping. We stayed away overnight. She brought some pyjamas and clean knickers then complained because she'd spilt her drink down her top so she'd have to wear a dirty top for the rest of the weekend. Could we please buy her a new one? I'd told her to pack a change of clothing, she'd forgotten apparently.

She is constantly forgetting PE kit, swimming kit, dinner money. If she's looking for something but can't find it at first glance, she gives up. I found a £20 on the drive the other day that she'd tried to put in her pocket and missed and not realised.

We have an agreement that in order to get her pocket money she has to keep her room tidy enough that whoever is hoovering / cleaning / dusting can get in there to do it. She hasn't had any pocket money for ages, her room always looks like someones ransacked it. She has other jobs, emptying the dishwasher, making sure curtains are open etc etc so nothing an 11 year old shouldn't be more than capable of doing and she never remembers to do it.

How on earth do I help her become a bit more organised? I am really getting to the end of my tether with it. I do my best to not enable her by picking up after her but that doesn't seem to help. I've been helping her come up with systems to remember what she needs each day but she doesn't look at them.

Am I asking too much of her? We are an extremely busy family, I do as much as I can for her but a) she wants to be treated more like an adult which it's hard to do when she can't remember to look at a calendar or job list b) sometimes I forget things too and she needs to read her lists and take some responsibility for herself, surely?

Arggghhhh I'm just so frustrated. Even if someone could tell me she'll get better as she gets older it would help, as I despair of her ever fending for herself or <horrors> driving. Her 6 year old sister is more organised than she is.

ghostyslovesheep Mon 16-Nov-15 14:21:15

it's frustrating - my 11 year old is similar

I take 2 approaches - if it's important (to me) I check she's done it

If it will ONLY affect her I leave her to it

I am also organised - Timetable on fridge - every night school stuff for the next day must be ready before bed - last week she forgot to give me the cooking ingredients - so she didn't do it

RainbowDashed Mon 16-Nov-15 14:26:45

Timetable is up, calender shows which days she need what kit. Makes precicely bugger all difference. She can keep her PE kit at school in her locker, but she brings it home to be washed then it lives in a bag under her bed for a couple of weeks, she borrows kit from friends with different timetables. Yuck.

Glad it isn't just me. I just feel as though I'm permanently nagging her to remember x, do y, have you done all your chores, etc etc. the eyerolling I get back makes me want to growl and swear at her

ghostyslovesheep Mon 16-Nov-15 14:28:48

Oh god yes - the eyerolling hmm bloody kids wine grin

FellOutOfBedTwice Mon 16-Nov-15 14:29:49

My sister was like this. In fact she still is a bit like this at 27 and my aunt is like this at 57...but they get by okay and hold down jobs etc. I agree if you're an organised person is annoying though!

InTheBox Mon 16-Nov-15 14:33:06

Keep badgering her. If something only affects her then let her deal with the consequences. No tub, too bad. No P.E kit, too bad. It doesn't matter if you come across as patronising but ask her "have you looked at the timetable for this week, what do you think you'll need to organise" etc etc.

DawnOfTheDoggers Mon 16-Nov-15 14:36:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

OldBeanbagz Mon 16-Nov-15 14:37:15

I would say it's going to be better but my 13yo DD has texted me twice in the last week to say that she's forgotten things. Neither time have i dashed to school with the items she's forgotten. I figured her getting into trouble is the only way she's going to learn.

So i remind her of the very important things - homework due in, music lessons and exam revision. Beyond that it's up to her.

Other than that make LISTS so that she knows what she has to take to school each day. How about post-it's on the inside of the front door. That's what i do for really important stuff.

As for bedroom tidyness, i have threatened to put the clothes DD leaves on the floor in a bin liner if it's not tidied up before the cleaner arrives. After that she started picking up after herself!

capsium Mon 16-Nov-15 14:40:15

It sounds like she is simply struggling to find a structure with which to organise herself. Some children just need more input with this.

Tbh I don't fully expect my own 11 year old to remember everything perfectly yet but we are getting there.

What I expect is for my DC to pack school bag which I then go through the timetable and check with them. If everything is there they know they have got this right, if not we discuss it. When they consistently get it right I will stop doing this. Ditto with homework & sorting out anything else.

whois Mon 16-Nov-15 14:41:14

List lists lists. From someone who finds it hard to remember things lists and checking and double checking was the only way I survived school (and now work!).

Have to check diary the night before and get everything ready. Can you remind her to do this bit? I still do my 'next day' check and collection of items after dinner before I go relax on the sofa.

Weekend away - packing list. Say you'll check it over the first couple of times to make sure the lost has everything.

Let her live with the concequences of forgetting things if they only impact her.

Lozza1990 Mon 16-Nov-15 14:44:57

I think it's a combination of her being 11 years old and she's probably not naturally organised like you are. She obviously can't be relied on to do things herself so there's no point carrying on with that, create a timetable/rota and tell her to look at it every morning. Give her something to do everyday, even if it's just to lay the table or something. Keep reminding her to check it every morning, eventually it will become a habit.

HaydeeofMonteCristo Mon 16-Nov-15 14:45:08

Yanbu that she should take more responsibility for herself.

But (I have to say it, it's a mn favourite, even though not the point of the thread) yabu to send her off to get a table while you were in the queue (presumably) in a busy restaurant. If she's done as you asked, the people in front of you would have had "lovely cold burger and chips".

ReallyTired Mon 16-Nov-15 14:45:33

She will quickly learn when she gets a load of detentions for forgetting stuff. She will get better. With my son, I found that making him pay money towards stuff that he lost focussed his brain towards looking after it.

TheTigerIsOut Mon 16-Nov-15 14:56:00

I'm a great believer that children only become responsible when you let them deal with the consequences of their own actions or lack of.

She forgot something, though.

Fannyupcrutch Mon 16-Nov-15 14:57:36

I have only read your OP so don't know if this has already been mentioned. My son is exactly the same as this, I found it a great help to use his planner on his phone to set off an alarm for daily reminders. So if PE is every tuesday then I set a reminder to pack it in the bag on the monday night and then a further reminder at 7.30 in the morning. Or make it a rule that all bags must be packed and on the table the night before school when they go to bed. Ou school has a online "my homework" area that tels us what he has been set and when it needs to be in. So I can access the planner and set reminders for that too if it starts to slip. But I set reminders for EVERYTHING. Check your homework diary- Get your PE kit packed- Don't forget its eco club tonight- Go to the dentist right after school to meet us there

foolonthehill Mon 16-Nov-15 15:02:16

Just to say this is easier for some than others...

of 4 children my 8 year old is the most organized and least likely to forget things despite being untidy. The 14 year old has managed to arrive at a system that USUALLY works after many years as your OP describes. The 13 year old is organised and good at time management but lacks judgement about peoples reactions and emotions. The 10 year old is organised and ordered and pernickety and precise to the point of driving me (and everyone else) insane.

They have all been "trained" in the same way with very similar expectations....different results

You can help and advise and give pointers but in the end it is harder for some than others.

It's probably good that you couldn't supply her enabled her to sort it out herself.

cailindana Mon 16-Nov-15 15:02:43

YABU. She's 11. She'll forget things. She's probably starting or going through the worst hormonal storm of her life. Plus she's growing and trying to manage friends and school. Ease off on her. If she forgets things, so what. It's not the end of the world.

Teapot101 Mon 16-Nov-15 15:03:02

I've got one of these! mine is nearly 13. I try not to help and let her face the consequences. I try to accept that it is who she is a bit and understand that she finds it hard, then I blow up!!! Little by little I think we're getting there. It's bloody frustrating though!

NewLife4Me Mon 16-Nov-15 15:03:28

I think you need to teach her how to do everything and keep reminding her of important things until she learns to do it for herself.
Some children take longer than others.
I wasn't in a position/ didn't want to spend my time chasing after things that weren't organised so we did/do things together.

ihatevirginmobile Mon 16-Nov-15 15:07:32

DD1 was like this at 14 better but I still pack her school bag for her ..(she also has ADHD so does have a bit more of an excuse.)
I find keep trying different things until you find a system that works...
the best thing that happened was half way through first year the school made blazer wearing compulsory ...bus pass, keys, money all go into and stay in her blazer pockets...notes home go in there too and I check/sign etc and return to blazer.
On the inside of the cloakroom door we have her timetable up - and a simplified version of what needs to come out of her bag and go in - so eg -french, -maths, +computers +english but I still end up doing it.
At least yours isn't losing things -DD1 lost her bus pass twice, her phone 3 or 4 times, two coats, 3 cardigans and 2 jumpers and countless tubs in her first year...
But look at the bright side - your younger one might be more organised 8yo checks her bag - and has been known to asks me if she has her lunch money etc...the first time she did I nearly fainted with shock...only time will tell if she stays as organised for secondary.

RainbowDashed Mon 16-Nov-15 15:09:02

Thanks for the suggestions. Lists rather than calendars then. She did have a tick sheet but I constantly had to remind her to look at it and she'd still miss stuff.

Glad to hear that the "if you forget and get in trouble then suck it up" approach is a tried and tested one - I was half expecting to be told to be easier on her.

Homework, oh god don't get me started. I sign her diary every week but it seems as though she doesn't put everything she's set in there. She was asked to spend one lunchtime catching up on homework she missed handing in. She forgot to go. She was given a detention for that. She forgot to go to that hmm. She was then given an after school detention. She complained about it being unfair. Tough. You messed up, now you accept the consequences.

Re the table saving - I did wonder if anyone would pick up on that grin. We weren't hours in the queue - we'd ordered, dh and dd2 were waiting for the order so they could carry it over, I was getting straws and sauce etc, I just asked her to look out for a table in the hope that we'd be able to sit down asap, as she was standing there staring into space whilst the rest of us were getting ourselves organised.

PennyHasNoSurname Mon 16-Nov-15 15:09:42

Id treat her like an Employee.

Type up a daily checklist. List everything sje needs to do in a day in the order it needs doing and make her tick stuff off every day. Hound her!

Go through everything on the checklist with her and have her sign off a "yes I understand and know how to do that" before you start, and that is her chance to say she doesnt know how/understand.

TheWrathofNaan Mon 16-Nov-15 15:09:40

My very bright child was like this and I could not understand why they could manage a simple thing. Turned out they had some SEN that made organisation difficult. Might be worth keeping in the back of your mind.

TheWrathofNaan Mon 16-Nov-15 15:10:10


Potterwolfie Mon 16-Nov-15 15:13:38

DS just started high school, we've got into a routine of sitting down as soon as he gets home/before dinner and together we work through what homework he has and what he needs for the next day.

He needs some prompts to do 'his' jobs like sorting recycling but he's kind of getting there. I try to go easy on him as I'm super organised and he just isn't the same way, but he's not doing it to annoy me, he just needs 'training'.

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