When your kids are born, it’s your job to be and do everything for them. Without you, they can’t eat, walk, put on clothes, or change their diapers. Then, seemingly overnight, they get older, more capable of doing things for themselves. It is at this point in their lives that children should start learning responsibility. Though time-consuming, inconvenient, and even frustrating at times, neglecting to teach kids responsible behaviors often leads to them becoming entitled, unreliable, and irresponsible adults.
Teaching children responsibility means teaching them how to do what’s required of them. It means showing them how to do things without relying on mom or dad. Responsible kids must also understand the importance of being accountable for their actions – right or wrong. While there are many ways to teach this valuable lesson, here are some examples to get you started.
The longer you wait to teach your kids responsibility, the harder it becomes. If you’ve been doing everything for your child and requiring nothing in return, they’ll expect this to continue no matter how old they get. Your teenage daughter will allow her laundry to pile up because she expects you to wash her clothes. Your five-year-old son will leave a mess on the table because he knows you’ll clean it up. That’s why you must start early. From the moment your kids can do things for themselves – let them.
Be A Good Role Model
You can’t expect your children to be responsible if you’re not modeling it yourself. If you allow your spouse to do all the housework, your room is always a mess, or you never follow-through on obligations, your children will follow those same behaviors. Whether it’s honoring your promise to show up at your son’s basketball game or keeping appointments with the dog vet online, your kids must see you taking care of your responsibilities.
Embrace The “Big Helper”
The best way to ingrain responsibility into your children is to make it fun. When they’re young, they’re often eager to do things to help. Whether it’s washing the dishes, cooking dinner, or carrying groceries into the house, when your kid volunteers to be a big helper – embrace it. Sure, they’re going to make mistakes, but it’s a learning experience. Find age-appropriate ways for them to help and be patient as they learn how to complete a task.
Structure And Routine
Children need both structure and routine. These concepts ultimately provide an opportunity for kids to manage themselves through a series of tasks. Take a morning routine, for instance. Your kids get up, make their beds, brush their teeth, wash their face, get dressed, and head to the kitchen for breakfast. Routines essentially allow your children to develop essential habits they’ll need throughout their lifetime.
Set Rules and Consequences
The best way to set expectations for your children is to set rules. Let your children know upfront what their responsibilities are and how they’re expected to behave. For example, you expect your children to clean up after themselves and behave in school.
On the other hand, consequences teach your kids what happens when they aren’t responsible (or don’t follow the rules). If they don’t clean up after themselves, they’re not able to watch television that evening. If you get a bad report from their teachers, perhaps they don’t get to play video games or hang with friends. Though following-through may be difficult, it encourages your kids to do the responsible thing in the future.
Having a five-year-old that doesn’t clean up after themselves or a teenager that refuses to do laundry might not seem like a big deal. However, these kids will grow up to be adults that expect the world to do everything for them. This immature and unreliable behavior will translate into their personal and professional lives. Just as your parents did for you, you must take the time to teach your kids responsibility now to be outstanding adults later.