RULE OF PARENTING #14: Taking Responsibility: 5 Ways To Teach Your Child About Responsibility

Teaching Responsibility To Children

Rules Of Parenting - # - Kids Grown Playing Outside RunningIt is never too early for a child to learn about responsibility. With responsibility come independence and a readiness to face the adult world as your child grows up. Here are 4 ways that loving parents can teach their child about responsibility:

1. Start Early Enough

Children as young as 3 years can start to learn about responsibility.  Ask your toddler to put away her toys after she is done playing, ask your 4 year old to clean the table after a meal, ask your 5 year old to tidy his room. When you start instilling a sense of responsibility early enough, it will be much easier for your child to take on greater chores and tasks around the house and in the community too as the years go by.

2. Coach and Teach Skills

Your child may need certain skills to be able to undertake tasks. Take 7-year-old Maria for example, who was required to make her bed every morning but she just never did it. Her mom was becoming frustrated by Maria’s unwillingness to make her bed. But she realized that perhaps her daughter did not know how to make her own bed. She called Maria into her room and together, they made the bed. In subsequent days, Maria woke up and spread her sheets, leaving her bed looking neat. Without the requisite skills, rebellion and resistance may set in and it may be difficult to get your child to do anything.

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3. Be Realistic to Encourage a Follow Through

Parents can have a hard time getting their child to take up certain tasks because the expectations are just so high for the child. In real sense, a child will only follow through with a task if it something he can manage, something that is important to him or something that has meaningful consequences. This means that you have to carefully select the tasks you assign your child; ensure that he can handle it, that it makes sense to him and that he understands the consequences.

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4. Break It Into Chunks

Children, whether toddlers, tweens or teens can only do so much, beyond which they will start to whine. Instead of overwhelming your child with too many things, break their to-do list into smaller manageable chunks. For example, 13-year-old Tim is having a hard time keeping up with all the tasks at home. After school, he is required to feed the dog, empty the dishwasher, bath his 6-year-old brother and then start on his homework. Often, he fails to do the dishwasher or bathe is brother, not because he has no skill but because there is too much on his plate to handle. It would be best for Tim’s parents to focus on one or two manageable tasks that will not leave their child feeling helpless.

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5. Set the Example

You cannot teach your children responsibility when you are not responsible. Are you productive around the house and within the family? Do you do what is required of you as a parent? Children model parents’ behaviour. It is much easier to coach and encourage your child to make his bed if you too make your bed first thing you wake up. You also want to notice your child’s efforts when they take responsibility. Praise them, give them a high five, tell them you appreciate their work.

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