Are you intentional when you think about what it really takes to raise a responsible child? If so, you most likely want the outcome to be a child that wants to do the right thing, can think for himself and be ready to leave home, spread his wings and soar.
Some parents, on the other hand, are unwittingly raising an entitled kid. They are not willing to let them fail, work out their problems, work hard or want for anything.
Be warned, though. Teaching accountability takes time and diligence and doesn’t happen overnight. It is an ongoing process.
What about some tips for helping your children learn about responsibility?
1. Give choices.
Give them opportunities to decide. It’s only when they get to make decisions that they learn about responsibility. They learn to think for themselves. Young children can make little choices while bigger kids can handle bigger choices.
2. Start early.
The toddler years are not too young to begin the process. “Oops…the milk needs to be cleaned up. Let’s go get a rag.” At this young age, you will need to do most of the work, but let them help.
3. Chores are perfect opportunities.
Age appropriate chores are a perfect way to teach about responsibility. This also teaches them about what it is like to be a contributing member of the family and learn new skills.
4. Let them solve the problem.
Teach them to be problem solvers. Don’t do it for them as this sends them the message that they aren’t capable, but be there to encourage them as they explore solutions. Fixing a problem makes us feel better, but doesn’t teach our children the lesson.
5. Say it once.
Talk less. One request is enough and then the onus is on them. Some kids won’t take responsibility because they know their parents will keep on reminding them or maybe even get to the point of frustration and do it for them.
6. Be a role model.
Finally, are you being a good example of what it means to be a responsible adult? Do you practice what you preach? Do you own up to your blunders and let them see you struggle as you find solutions? Do you do the right thing in any given situation, regardless of whether you want to or not?