Teaching children responsibility enables them to be successful in life and at school. When children learn to take responsibility for their actions, they are able to complete tasks assigned to them and people will see them as dependable adults throughout their lives. Starting out, most children do the tasks assigned to them by adults because they feel obligated to, but the hope is that they will eventually learn to take responsibility for it because they know it needs to be done.
At this point, you might be asking yourself a few questions: Have I taught my child to be responsible? How do I go about teaching my child about responsibility? Here are a few tips on how to teach your child about responsibility at home, school, and later on in life.
- Let your child help you.
There are probably certain tasks you are particular about doing, such as how you set the table for dinner or fold your clothes. While there are times when it is more convenient to exclude your child from certain tasks, try to look for more opportunities throughout your daily routine when you can include him or her to teach responsibility and show your child that you value his or her skillset. Sometimes you might be tempted to become impatient or unhappy with the end results, but instead, ask God to give you patience as you teach your child something so crucial to his or her success in life! You will begin to view these opportunities as precious time with your child, and I can guarantee he or she will learn things in addition to being responsible during these tasks.
- Model responsible behavior.
The first way to encourage your child to be responsible is by showing him or her what responsibility means through your words and actions. There have probably been times when you heard your child repeat something you said, and you might have had the realization that your child watches everything you say and do. God created children to absorb everything they see and hear, so use this to your child’s benefit!
Model responsible behavior through your own actions, whether they are big or small. Every time you make it to an appointment on time, you are showing your child how to be responsible with his or her time. When you buy the less expensive brand at the grocery store to save a few dollars, you are showing your child how to be responsible with his or her money. When you keep a promise you made to someone, you are showing your child how to be responsible with his or her commitments. Our sinful nature prevents us from being responsible all the time, but even when we fail, we can model for our young imitators how to overcome our irresponsibility by taking taking ownership of our mistakes through apology and forgiveness.
- Provide routines and structure.
It does not take very long for someone to realize how children thrive off of a daily routine and structure, structure, structure! If I stray away from our normal daily schedule in the classroom, I can usually count on one of my students to speak up about it. You most likely face this reality in your child’s routines at home. Help your child practice responsibility by creating routines that will allow him or her to put into practice the skills he or she has learned from you or at school. When your child is able to expect what is coming up next, he or she can more easily plan ahead and learn how to think like a responsible adult.
- Assign responsibility gradually.
It is never too early to start teaching your child the importance of responsibility! Here are a few tasks I grabbed from focusonthefamily.com based on age groups:
- help parents clean up spills
- pick up toys
- Preschoolers (ages 3-5)
- get dressed with minimal parental help
- clear the table with supervision
- School-Age Children (ages 6-9)
- brush teeth, comb hair, make bed, etc.
- fold laundry with supervision
- Preteens (ages 10-12)
- wake up using an alarm clock
- wash dishes
- Early Adolescents (ages 13-15)
- take care of personal hygiene, belongings, and homework
- prepare an occasional family meal
- earn money by babysitting or doing yard work for friends, family, neighbors, etc.
- Teach that irresponsibility has consequences.
Some of the best lessons in life are learned from our own failures. Often, these are the hardest lessons we teach children. If your young child is working on an art project, tell him or her that the supplies used for that project will be taken away if they are not put away. The most important step is to follow through with what you said would happen. If your child fails to clean up his or her mess, he or she will learn quickly the consequences of not being responsible for picking up after himself or herself.If you have an older child at home, instead of bringing his or her forgotten school supplies or homework to school, let your child experience the consequences of being irresponsible. You will not always be around to help your child cover up for his or her mistakes. Chances are that your child will feel the weight of those consequences and will begin taking responsibility on his or her own.
- Praise your child!
Each time your child shows signs of responsibility, praise him or her for what he or she has done! Tell your child that you are proud of him or her. By keeping things positive when assigning your child certain tasks and watching him or her complete them, your child will begin to take ownership of those tasks and will become a more responsible human being!
Teaching children to be responsible might seem like an impossible task at times, especially when we, as role models, see all the times we have failed in this area of our lives. Remember that God’s grace covers a multitude of shortcomings. He gives us a new beginning each day as we strive to work on our weaknesses in life. You can remind your child of this when you experience his or her failures together. Take these tips, make them your own, and think of ways in which you can continue teaching your child how to be responsible because the effort you put forth now will help your child throughout his or her life.
“Age-Appropriate Chores.” Focus on the Family. N.p., 29 June 2009. Web. 03 Jan. 2017.
Waltham, MA Alonna Friedman in. “9 Tips for Teaching Kids Responsibility.” Care.com.
Care.com, 12 Mar. 2013. Web. 03 Jan. 2017.