2018 Oct 31: Responsibility

Responsibility is not a quality that we are born with, and it surely is not learned overnight. Our children will not magically become responsible, so who is responsible for teaching responsibility? The answer to this question is easy, however the process of teaching responsibility can be difficult.

One important step in teaching responsibility is to “Let your child do it”. As parents there may be a variety of reasons for doing things for your child. Many parents feel that their children are unable to do a job, but we need to remember our children will never be able to learn if we never give them the opportunity. Our life styles today are very busy. This is another major reason for not giving our children jobs to complete. How many times have you, as a parent, said “I can do it faster myself” referring to doing a job rather than making your child do it. Time is valuable to all of us, but taking the time and having your child learn to do the job and learn responsibility is time well spent. Another effective way to get your child to work on a job or complete a task is to ask them to help you with something like mowing the yard, and do it together in the beginning. Then teach your child to do more of the job until they are able to do it on their own.

When your child does not take care of something that is their responsibility, remember to use consequences to help motivate and get their attention. For instance, a rule in your house may be for everyone to pick-up after themselves and not leave things lying around the house, or it will be put in the trash. It won’t take to many times of digging in the trash for belongings, that things begin to be picked up and not left out. This may again take some extra time for a parent, but responsibility will be learned. Another important way to encourage responsibility is to be a good example for your children. Make sure you take care of your responsibilities at home and at work, and not make excuses when something doesn’t get done. Always talk to your child about how you will handle the situation and avoid being irresponsible in the future.

As a parent, give your child jobs they can accomplish or do. Take time to teach them, and don’t nag or do it for them when they forget. Instead, help your child to feel responsible for their assigned jobs, and if they fail to do something right, encourage them to never give up and try until they get it right. I know everything mentioned in this week’s column is much easier “said” than “done”, but it is vital for our children’s success in life if they learn responsibility at an early age when they have plenty of support.