Teaching kids responsibility is one of the most important tasks a parent has. Showing children how to be responsible from a young age will turn them into responsible teens and adults, who can do things on their own and realize the consequences of irresponsible actions. It also instills in them a sense of independence and belonging to a collective effort. If you’ve ever wondered how you can teach your child to be responsible, rest assured that there are a number of things parents can do, starting with kids as young as pre-school age.
1. Have Kids Help You With Chores.
Let kids help around you around the house with your chores whenever possible. When you go to make your bed, ask them for help. When dinner time is over, let them carry their plate into the kitchen and put it in the sink. If they are old enough, have them dry the dishes once they are all washed. There are countless other examples of letting them do small things to help you with chores. Even though it may not get done as fast as you like, helping you out when they’re young will teach them how things are done in your household, so that when they are old enough to do chores on their own they will already have a sense of how to complete these chores. Also, having kids help you out will allow them to see that the house doesn’t just clean itself on its own! They will know what goes into keeping things organized, neat and clean.
2. Let Children Be In Charge of Their Own Space.
It is also a great idea to keep kids responsible for their own area and for their playtime. Make sure they are keeping their room clean before they can do things like watch TV or play with the tablet. Praise them when they pick up their toys and comment on how nice their room looks. Have separate bins for different types of toys, and help small children learn organizational skills while at the same time teaching them to be responsible for picking up their things. If they can’t find a certain toy, don’t find it for them. Encourage them to tidy up and look through their things. If they lose or misplace something, children need to know that the responsibility lies in their own hands.
3. Enforce Consequences.
It is important to enforce consequences when teaching kids responsibility as well. As previously mentioned, make sure that their tasks are done before they can do something like watch TV or go to their friend’s house. This will make kids realize that they have certain things that need to be done before they can do more fun activities. If their homework is not complete, don’t let them do it later. Responsibility is getting things done that are most important first, so they must learn that order of importance. If consequences are not enforced, kids learn quickly that they can get away with things. Many parents already know that!
4. Encourage Independence As Soon As Possible.
Try not to do things that you know your kids can do themselves. If they are old enough to get drinks from the fridge, but ask you to do it, don’t give in. Don’t carry their dinner plates for them, or clean their room. This will give you a break as well as teach them how to be independent and responsible for their wants and needs. Teach young kids how to get water out of the sink or dispenser and keep cups within reach. There may be some spills at first, but this shouldn’t deter you from letting kids try again to do things themselves. Teach them how to make their beds also. Sheets may be crooked at first, but as time goes on and as they grow up they will get better at this task. What is important is that they are trying and doing it on their own.
Ask them before they do something you think they can do on their own, “Do you think you can do it by yourself now that you are getting older?” Praise them when they are done saying, “That’s awesome you were able to do that without my help!”. Don’t criticize when things are done just slightly wrong.
5. Teach Your Child School Responsibility.
If your child forgets an assignment at home, try not to be so quick to bring it to school. If it is homework that won’t ruin their grade, or something for gym class, don’t give in to the guilt of them not having what they forgot. They will only learn that you will always be there for them to bring them things they need and forget, and won’t learn to have that mental checklist in the morning before school. There will be a mindset of, “Well, if I forgot something, my mom will bring it to me.” This won’t always be the case and you won’t always be there to bring them whatever they need, so don’t start that learned behavior now! Writing a list of what needs done can be helpful at first, and they will soon learn it automatically.
6. Pay an Allowance for Tougher Jobs.
When kids get older, they can start to earn allowance for more difficult jobs. Things like mowing the lawn or washing the car are good ideas for paid chores, and kids can then learn to save up for items that they want to buy instead of just begging you! Once they start to master these more difficult jobs, they can ask neighbors and friend’s parents to do it for pay. Some people are willing to pay pretty good money for mowing lawns and shoveling snow in order to save them time and energy. This will not only teach kids responsibility to others for jobs they do, but with money as well.
These are just a few ideas to get started teaching kids how to be more responsible. Tell us: How do you teach your children responsibility at home?
Elisa Travalio, Teacher, Editor and Blog Writer at A Grade Ahead