Responsibilities are important. When kids develop personal responsibility; it gives them their best chance of avoiding many of the pitfalls of life that await them if they’re not careful. If they’re not aware of what’s going on and ready to take responsible action to deal with it, it makes them less able to deal with problems that surface as they get older. The idea that you are responsible for things is not inborn. Make no bones about it: that realization comes with coaching and training as children develop—it doesn’t just happen by itself. Here are 6 ways to help your children to learn responsibility.
Start Young As early as you can in your child’s life, start having them take responsibility for the things with which they’re involved. You can’t suddenly spring responsibility on a teenager and expect he will know how to follow through. Handing out responsibility to kids needs to start early. Think: Toddler
Show Kids the Way Play to a child’s skill level. First, you can demonstrate how to complete small tasks. If your daughter wants a snack, show her where the bananas are and how to peel one and throw away the peel in the trash. Does your daughter always throw her dirty clothes on the floor? Place a hamper in her room and show her where the day-old jeans belong. Make responsibilities age-appropriate and even use the word “responsibility,” it sounds grown-up and important!
Model Responsibility by doing the task yourself that you are trying to teach and use “we” language. You will need to also do what you are trying to teach so if you don’t make your bed every morning you can’t expect your son to make his. Also by being inclusive allows the kid to be a part of something and quickly develop habits. “Now we put our plate in the sink,” as the meal ends. Use the same inclusive “we” phrases over and over to show how you can easily solve problems.
Kids love to help. They want to help. To them, chores don’t feel like work. Keep up positive vibes by offering specific praises for actions. “You hung your coat on the hook and I’m proud of you!” Or, “Thank you for emptying the garbage in your room!”
Children will develop a sense of ownership for any repeated action. And this constant communication helps them take initiative in other situationssuch as at school or on a play date.
Manage Your Expectations When you ask a five-year-old to make her bed, it may still be lopsided. Don’t criticize. Recognize a job well done. The next time you make your own bed, show her how you do it.
Avoid Rewards At least at first. There’s a time and place for rewards and allowances, but that being responsible isn’t it. Don’t assume a reward system has to be in place for your child to learn responsibility, kids respond just as well to praise, spending time with you and feeling the boost in their self-confidence. Provide Structure and Routine Kids thrive on order. Instead of offering rewards to get them to meet responsibilities, set up a morning routine with a positive end result. Your son must brush his teeth, eat breakfast and get dressed before watching TV. (Notice TV is not being offered as a reward — it’s just the result of finishing the routine.) And he should be able to complete the routine in any order that works for him. A younger child may not fully realize these tasks are his responsibilities, but allowing him to create a healthy structure will give him the tools to one day develop strategies for getting homework done without you nagging (too much!)