Encouraging responsibility in children has many benefits including helping them to become conscientious, competent, and reliable young adults. The old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do” bears out the truth that children pick up our values from listening to us and watching us every day. You could say they learn more from what we do than from what we say.
Young children see their parents as role models and are more likely to follow along with a parent also doing the same tasks. Here are five simple ways to help children reach for responsibility and independence:
Create structure and routine
From as young an age as possible it’s good to guide children into a routine that’s grounded in and around responsibility. One way this can easily be done is to assign simple, daily chores: bringing dishes to the sink after meals, making a bed in the morning, and more.
Group participation in household chores can provide children with the valuable experience of participating in teamwork, of achieving common goals. This could be for one hour a week, or on one day a week, at a time when the family can be together to participate in cleaning up the house.
Let your children help you whenever possible
Young people love to help adults with tasks. Yes, it often takes a bit longer if your little one helps make the sandwiches for lunch or helps mix the dough for a cake. Letting them help promotes learning of important skills and encourages accountability and responsibility in a supportive way.
“It’s important to remember that children respond to positive reinforcement more than anything else. Even mild criticism can create feelings of despondency and discourage them from wanting to help in the future. Aim for more praise and less criticism.”
Encourage your child to think through situations
Children can organize themselves to get things done in a timely manner if they have a list of responsibilities to refer to each day. Let them set the order of events and complete tasks under their own steam; you can provide help and support as needed.
“A great way to encourage problem solving, when they come to you for help, is to avoid jumping in too soon with the solution. Help by talking them through it. Allow them to bring their own conclusions forward, even if the end result is not quite what you had in mind.”
Model responsibility and accountability
Experts agree: for most children, the most influential role models are their parents and caregivers. When you take personal responsibility for getting things done and when you keep your word when promising your children something, you provide a shining example for children to emulate.
With all the distractions of modern life, it’s not easy teaching young people about the concept of responsibility. Following these 5 simple tips will bring you that much closer to raising a responsible, caring child with a positive lifestyle.