All of our school supplies (markers, colored pencils, crayons, pencils, erasers, scissors, glue, tape, pencil sharpeners, etc) used to be community property. This seemed like an efficient way to organize and store these items. Also, we like to encourage sharing and working together as a family.
For several years I dealt with kids leaving art supplies laying around, not knowing who to call back to clean it up, and constantly throwing away markers because they dried out. It became clear that sounding like a broken record ("Click the marker lids! When you're done with something, put it away! Why are there so many pencils just laying around where the baby can get to them?!") wasn't making for a peaceful home and wasn't encouraging the kids to take personal responsibility for their stuff.
Things had to change. Last year each of the kids got their own school supplies and we started to teach them the new mantra, "If you don't take care of your nice stuff, you won't have nice stuff."
See the little labels? I think when this tape runs out I'm going to buy some that's more opaque. On some of their things it's pretty hard to see the color. I even labeled each and every crayon!
This year I'm taking things a step further. I was still wasting too much breath on constantly reminding them to put things away. Now, if I find stuff laying around, then it gets confiscated (depending on circumstance, they may get one additional opportunity to clean it up without penalty).
So here's the kicker: if your scissors, for example, get confiscated then you have to buy new ones the next time you need them. You have to buy them back from mom with real money. If I didn't take care of my scissors and lost them, then I would have to go to the store and buy new ones. The idea is to enforce real-life consequences. If you don't take care of your stuff, you won't have your stuff. If you need stuff, you'll have to buy new stuff.
In the month after this new plan was introduced, Secundus and Tertius each had to buy new scissors. Twice. Money is a big deal to them so hopefully it will be a good motivator to shape up! Mommy's serious.
Now, if the kid is broke or needs a color of marker that Mommy owns that didn't come in their set, then they have the option to simply borrow from me. And then that allows for another lesson. If you borrow someone else's stuff, you had better be respectful and take good care of it! If you don't take care of someone else's stuff, they're not likely to let you borrow from them again!
How do you encourage personal responsibility in your kids?