Responsibility is a prized value that all of us want our children to have. Indeed, it is part of the life skills one needs to be an adult of integrity. However, imbibing responsibility is not simply a trick. It is built with time. Kids who do not have responsibilities tend to feel entitled and think that the world will always work their way. This can dangerously mislead them to make wrong decisions and make things difficult for themselves as well as others.
For kids, responsibility is not just about completing a task. Rather, it’s about adopting the right attitude and being proud of one’s actions, not just making the parents or elders happy. On this note, raising good, helpful kids is not a fantasy but a possible reality.
As your child grows, they begin to be more independent and enjoy making their own decisions. This isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s the opposite. You can encourage your child by assigning tasks that they are capable of completing. That will, in turn, make them know that they are capable of looking after themselves, thereby preparing for greater responsibilities.
Here are some ways in which you can teach your child to be more responsible:
- Show and Set Examples
When you give your child a task, explain it in a simple way. Then, do some of it and show them how to go about it. For example, if you’re asking them to fold their clothes, consider folding a couple of garments yourself while gently explaining the process. If you find yourself spending quite a lot of time showing them how to do something, it may be too difficult or complicated for their age. Instead, you could make him responsible for a small part of the task, such as transferring garments from one place to another.
2. Assign Age-Appropriate Tasks
A great way to encourage your child to be more responsible is by setting age-appropriate tasks for them. Consider something that your child can do without too much difficulty and that which they are likely to succeed at. This could be tidying the desk after completing homework or making sure the salt container at the table is full. Giving chores that require alertness and effort but are achievable for their age will boost their sense of independence.
3. Practise Work Followed by Play
Children have a short attention span and may get impatient to play. However, as a responsible adult teach them to get relieved of chores before indulging in relaxation or enjoyment. A great way to explain this is by using the “when-then” rule. For instance, you could say “When we’ve made the bed, we could play with the toys.” Be matter-of-fact yet friendly when you make the statement. Make it clear that you want to have fun, but only after getting the more important and necessary thing done first. Show your child that you’re not trying to dominate, just expecting responsible behaviour out of them in the same way as you do out of yourself.
4. Add an Element of Fun
Chores become enjoyable when there is a dash of fun added to them. If you and your child are doing the chores together, both of you could sing along to make the task seem less difficult that it is. Or you could take turns in narrating funny stories that’ll crack you up as you work. If you are working on separate tasks, have a race to see who can complete their chore properly first. All of these will make work seem delightful, which in turn will encourage your child to participate in them.
5. Appreciate the Effort Rather than Results
When your child tries doing things on their own, avoid being too critical in assessing the result. Rather, appreciate the effort they put into it. Remember that practice makes perfect. Restrain the urge to take over and do it yourself or criticise them. At the most, you could help them or guide them with the difficult parts, and divide the overall task into manageable chunks which becomes easier to accomplish.
6. Encourage Logical Thinking
Rather than simply giving orders and instructions regarding your child’s everyday activities, encourage them to perceive the logic behind each task. For example, instead of saying “Brush your teeth,” explain why brushing every day is important and how it can help. That way, your little one will understand the logic behind the activities that need to be done to be responsible. This will melt much of their resistance towards it. When they get the rationale behind each task and activity, they will automatically make good choices on their own – without any need for you to prod and poke.
7. Provide Structure and Patterns
You want to incorporate routines and structure in your child’s activities as it teaches them the necessity and importance of going about the not especially inviting activities. For example, they learn to master the art of getting ready in the morning, having their meals on time and tidying up after playing, which eventually leads to the development of successful grooming and study habits. It is through regular routines and repetition that children learn basic life skills that makes them responsible adults.
8. Help Them Handle It on Their Own
If your child lands in a difficult situation, restrain yourself from rushing to bail them out. Instead, be available for consultation and problem-solving. Help them work on their feelings and fears and make sure that they do not bypass the difficulty. Allow them to handle the problem on their own, whether it requires making an apology or taking steps to make amends more concretely. Do not fly to their rescue. Be at their side to guide them if needed and encourage them to manage matters on their own. It will make them more accountable.
9. Drop the Blame Game
When things go wrong or don’t turn out the way we want, we all want to direct the blame at something or someone. It’s almost as it pinpointing blame might help prevent recurrence of the issue and absolve us of accountability. Also, when we accuse others, it unwittingly makes them defensive and more inclined to join in the blame game. This, in turn, instead of making amends makes matters worse. So, avoid blaming your child as it will make them find reasons why it wasn’t their fault. They will be less likely to take responsibility that way and the problem will probably repeat itself. So the next time you catch yourself blaming someone, stop. Instead, accept any accountability you can without beating yourself up. You are bound to come up with better solutions from a state of acceptance than of blame. And your kids will watch and learn to be more responsible from your attitude.
10. Avoid Labelling Your Child Irresponsible
When you call your child “irresponsible” time and again, it generates negative sentiment and may eventually lead them to feel discouraged, demotivated or even indifferent. Instead, teach them the skills needed to be responsible. For example, if they tend to forget important things, teach them to set signs and reminders in places where they frequent the most. For example, if they are likely to forget when a certain home assignment has to be submitted in school, encourage them to write a sticky note and put it up on their desk or door. Similarly, if they’re always losing things, teach them to check before leaving any venue, be it the classroom, a friend’s house or the movie theatre.
The bottom line is making your child learn that responsibility and respect go hand in hand. To become an independent, lovable individual, which all children yearn to be, they need to know that responsibility is an obligation. Those who undertake responsibility in any given circumstances are essentially people who are willing to stand out and make a difference.
Instead of covering up always, let you little one bear the consequences of their irresponsibility once in a while. First-hand experience often teaches lessons in a way nothing else can. While teaching children responsibility isn’t easy, it is worth the effort. If you follow the above tips, there are greater chances of rearing a responsible child who, as an adult will be an asset to the society.