Entitled or Responsible: How to Raise a Self-Sufficient Child

At the end of the day, most parents I know want to be able to say that they are the proud parents of a responsible, confident and independent adult. If that’s true for you, then the goal is to raise a child who wants to do the right thing, can think for himself and is ready to leave home at 18 years old equipped for the real world.

Let’s be more specific and consider a few different kinds of responsibility.pwa_feature_responsibility

Personal responsibility – taking care of yourself and becoming the best person you can be.

Moral responsibility – doing what is right by friends, family and others.

Community responsibility – volunteering, serving and contributing.

Legal responsibility – following family rules, school rules and becoming law-abiding citizens.

Financial responsibility – starting early with allowances to teach them about money management.

Exactly what does it mean to hold your child accountable? It means that you expect and require them to do what they are supposed to do at all times. Responsibility is at the foundation of lifelong success and a necessary component for being able to navigate and function in this convoluted world. To teach our kids about accountability is ongoing and doesn’t happen overnight.

Be warned, though. The exact opposite of this is raising an entitled child. It means doing things for them, allowing them to get by with wrong-doing, not requiring them to contribute to the family, managing their life for them and the list goes on…

What are some ways you can guide them down this road of responsibility?

Give them choices. How are they going to practice being responsible if we don’t give them opportunities? Start early offering choices. Little kids get little choices, “do you want milk or juice” and big kids get big choices, “do you want to start your homework before or after you return from gymnastics”?

Let them fail. The biggest mistake parents are making these days is not allowing their kids to experience adversity. So many parents tell me: “it just kills me to see them struggle” “but she’ll be upset” or “I just can’t stand it when she loses.” Fixing things for our children is innate within most parents, but it robs them of the opportunity to learn about responsibility and independence.

Give them chores. Without a doubt, one of the best ways to begin the process of instilling responsibility is with chores. Children experience what it’s like to contribute to the greater good of the family. Doing chores with a parent builds a sense of pride. Let them be involved in the process of deciding which chores they would like to do. When they get to decide, they have ownership and the chances of compliance will be greater. This is opposed to us dictating that they clean their bathroom, wash their clothes and unload the dishwasher.

Say it once, just once. I’ll bet I talk to at least one parent daily who says to me “I have to tell him over and over to go do what I asked. He just won’t listen.” My response is the very same each time. He knows he doesn’t have to. You see, his mother has a history of not holding him accountable when she asks the first time. Nothing good ever comes out of this scenario. With each request, mother gets more irritated and loud; the child gets frustrated that his mother is nagging. Most importantly, mother is not holding him accountable.

Set a good example. Are you a blamer? Do you condemn your son’s baseball coach for what was your child’s error or do you criticize your daughter’s teacher for requiring that she redo her paper? Do you own your mistakes and correct them? Your attitude and behavior will be what influences your child.

So, there you have it—some ideas about how to stretch and grow your children as you guide them into adulthood. You will be equipping them with one of the attributes it takes to make it in this great big world: responsibility.

There’s Always Hope,

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Need more help?  Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?”  While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services.  Click Here to learn more.

 

 

Ask Amy: “How Do I Talk To My Child About Suicide?”

Reader: “How Do I Talk To My Child About Suicide?”

Amy: Watch this great clip from Amy as she addresses how, when, where and what to say to our kids when it comes to suicide.

 

There’s Always Hope,

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Need more help?  Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?”  While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services.  Click Here to learn more!

Family Spotlight: Shannon Harris

I don’t know what I don’t know. I keep learning this lesson over and over.

I love being a mom. However, it often feels like we are walking a tightrope between teaching grace and yet providing discipline, having a sense of humor and teaching respect, deciding when the small ‘stuff’ I actually ‘big’ stuff, and vice versa.Parenting with Amy

Two years ago we attended a parenting group with Amy. These few things have made a big impact for the way we parent:

As a working mom, ‘mom guilt’ can occur daily. Amy taught us to give our kids at least 15 minutes of quality time per day. While this seems like a small amount of time, it gets all to easy to be ‘busy’ and miss this opportunity. So, whether I am coloring with the kids, having them help me make dinner, throwing a football with my son or reading books together…. I know it is critical to make the time.

It is innate to ‘fix’ our babies. If they fall and skin their knee, get a bandaid. If they are hungry, feed them. If they are sad, cheer them up. While I still need to tend to their physical needs, Amy taught me that I don’t need to ‘fix’ their feelings. I need to teach them that I am ok when they are sad, or mad, or hurt. I need to validate what they are feeling. Let them sit in their feelings. I can say “I know you are mad at me because you didn’t get….” And just let them be mad until they want to work it through. I have started to see the fruit of this process now with my 7 year old. Recently, when he has been disrespectful to me, I have shared with him from my perspective, “I don’t like the way you spoke to me. It makes me sad when you talk to in that manner.” And then I am quiet. On his own, he has now gone off, only to come back 30 minutes later and apologize to me. This shows me he is taking time to process how I am feeling. Which means he is taking time to process his feelings.

In our house, we have a saying “When you mess up, you fess up.” Often as the parent, your instinct is to not show weakness with your kids. But, Amy gave me permission to tell my kids that I am sorry. Or come back to them and explain ‘I didn’t like the way I handled the situation’ today, or ‘I have thought about what I said and I have changed my mind.’ A lot of times we excuse our behavior as parents with the rationale that ‘kids are resilient., or unaffected, or won’t remember.’ As resilient and forgiving as they are, they do remember. I love that we have BOTH Authority in our home AND show humility with our children. My kids are learning that the expectation is not to be perfect, the expectation is to OWN their choices and the consequences. This has to be taught by example.

When we were on a family vacation, my daughter was coming down an elevator with my sister. The doors shut before my daughter got out. For 45 terrifying seconds, she was hysterical in the elevator alone. She seemed to be ok…just frightened…until about one month later when she wouldn’t let me out of her sight. Cried when I left her at school. Didn’t want to her dance recital or school concert. My natural inclination was to push her through so she (or I) wouldn’t miss out. I was coached to ‘let her heal.’ I needed to build her confidence and trust. Not put her in situations that caused anxiety. Pull back and meet her where she was at. And so we did. I had to keep the normal school and church routines, but soccer, playdates, dance, performances…I had to let them go. It took almost a year for her to fully regain her confidence and not have a ‘spirit of fear.’ But, now she is thriving: dance, playdates, rides the bus to school, skiing. I was so thankful to get guidance during this period, and have a plan to deal with her anxiety.

Lastly, in working with Amy, you learn you have to stop comparing your parenting to other parents. You as a parent have to discern what is best for your kids. And it is valuable to have someone objective, who can know your parenting style and your issues, and give you the ‘words’ to say to your children. I feel empowered when a challenge comes up, but I have a plan on how to handle it. For example, when my kids: roll their eyes, use inappropriate language, have a disrespectful tone, have power struggles with friends, feel inferior in sports or academics, etc. I am equipped with ‘words’ and actions to handle these things. I can validate their feelings, discern if I need to step in or hold back, and be available to talk through the next step or consequences.

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