You need to enable your child to be responsible. Children need to be taught and guided on how to be responsible, it doesn’t come naturally.
Parents often pose questions when they meet with me, or any of their child’s teachers. These questions go hand-in-hand with the progress their child is making. A common question is: “How do I get my child to act responsibly?”
Situations need to be created and routines put into place to instill responsibility. You can’t expect your child to be responsible if you aren’t. Remember they learn from your example and they need to be taught responsibility.
What it means to be responsible
A responsible person is someone who is able to act without guidance or supervision, because he or she is accountable and answerable for his or her behaviour. Such a person can be trusted or depended upon to do things on his or her own. Such a person will follow through on obligations. Being a responsible person means you have good character (Ron Kurtus 18 April 2000).
Responsibility is a life skill that should be taught from an early age, the earlier the better. We need to show children the way by providing structure and routine and exposing them to consequences. Being responsible is key to a child’s success both in school and in the larger world. Children who are responsible are seen as trustworthy and dependable.
How to act responsibly
- If you have agreed to do something, just do it, don’t procrastinate.
- Be consistent and meet your commitments.
- Be accountable for your actions and never shift the blame.
- Don’t make excuses or be known as a complainer.
- Be upfront and admit when you’ve made a mistake.
- Take care of yourself and make your own decisions.
- Learn to multi-task.
- Be dependable, someone people can count on.
- Think with your head and do everything to the best of your ability.
7 Ways to teach your child responsibility
- Giving them chores appropriate to their age: make chores a regular part of the household routine and make sure they get done. Raising your child with the expectation that they always clean up their own mess.
- Rewarding responsible behaviour: giving gratification when deserved, which builds a healthy self-esteem and pride in being responsible.
- Set a routine and adhere to it: setting rules and limits helps a child to learn basic skills through repetition.
- Help your child to have a check list of their responsibilities, cementing a routine and teaching accountability.
- Allowing your child to do things themselves: you want your child to accept ownership so you need to let go and let them “do it their way”, even if it means remaking the bed. This will encourage a feeling of pride and it also opens them to failure. Parents need to know when failure is good and when a child needs guidance or support.
- Don’t rush to bail your child out of a difficult situation: Your child needs to learn the satisfaction of contribution and solving their own problems.
- You need to be the role model: remember your child looks to you as their role model, so you need to model responsibility and accountability. Always keep your promises and never make excuses.
Lastly, we need to provide our children with unconditional love by listening to them, supporting them and showing affection. By helping our children to feel capable and to have a healthy self-esteem, we as parents provide a platform for responsibility to be built on.
We want to raise children who are willing to be different and stand out. Studies have proven that people who take responsibility in any given situation do just that. We need to understand that raising responsible children and instilling these attitudes and traits takes time. Parenting is like a puzzle, one piece at a time eventually builds the whole.
Parenting involves taking on both the caring and nurturing role as well as instilling structure and routine. Unconditional love linked to the setting of boundaries and consequences will help promote responsibility in your child.