Responsibility is not a genetic trait, it is a learned behavior. Learning to be responsible is about learning to be accountable for one’s actions. There are many in our society today that would argue that we have become a nation populated with irresponsible excuse-makers; anything and everything is to blame but them. Most parents want their kids to grow up and be dependable, responsible adults. Children learn by example so be certain that you, as a parent, behave in a responsible manner. Following are a few tips for teaching kids to be responsible.
Assign your kids age appropriate chores. Completing tasks such as picking up toys or carrying dirty dishes to the sink after meals are simple chores that even toddlers can do. Kids who are assigned chores learn that they can be helpful and that they too can contribute as a family member. Children take pride in their chore accomplishments and learn to accept responsibility for their assigned tasks.
2. Carry through
Don’t allow your children to wiggle out of doing their chores; teach them to keep their commitments. Teaching your kids to carry through will positively affect every aspect of life later on, especially the ability to keep a job.
3. No Excuses
Make your child realize that he or she is accountable for their actions. Don’t let them get by with blaming someone else or making an excuse when they fail to follow through; impress upon them that they are the one who was responsible for honoring the commitment. Allowing your child to constantly make excuses and shift the blame weakens their capacity to function effectively without you.
4. Pet Chores
Age appropriate pet chores are a great way to teach a child to be responsible for another live being. Toddlers often enjoy putting the food dish in front of Fido or brushing Miss Kitty. As kids get older they can be given more pet responsibilities such as putting the food in the pet dishes and filling the water bowl. Be sure to supervise your kids to make sure the chores are being done; no animal should do without as you teach your kids to be accountable.
5. Set an Example
You are the role model for your children. Take your role seriously and show them what it means to act responsibly. Never let your kids hear you make excuses or shift blame or they will follow your example.
6. Make Lists
Make a “to-do” list for yourself and each child weekly. When your list is complete, let your kids see you reward yourself with a favorite treat. Determine what each child values and offer to reward them for accomplishing their list each week. Bribery is a great motivator.
Especially with younger children, praise is a very effective teaching tool. We all like to feel like we have done something good and praising a job well done will encourage kids to repeat the action.
Responsible adults don’t just spring forth fully formed; they are taught as kids to be accountable for their actions. What do you think is the best way to teach a child responsibility?
Top Photo Credit: MissSmile