How to Instill Responsibility and Independence in Your Child
Over the last several weeks, I have been working with my children to instill a sense of responsibility and independence in preparation for the birth of their baby sister. We have focused on establishing morning routines to help us get out the door each day.
This morning, my three-year-old came to get me, “Come and see, come and see!”
Not sure what to expect, I walked somewhat hurriedly to the door of her bedroom.
“Look!” she stated pointing to her bed. I saw her wrinkled blanket draped over her bed.
“I made my bed all by myself!”
I smiled giving her a huge hug, “You sure did!”
Dr. Alexandra Barzvi, a parenting coach and clinical psychologist talks about responsibility, “It’s an attitude, the idea of taking action and being proud of doing it, not just always having your mom and dad do it for you.”
Throughout the month of July, the teachers at Stepping Stone School will provide children with focused activities centered around the Communities of Character™ trait of responsibility. Each week, teachers will read stories about responsibility and recognize responsible behaviors.
Responsibility is necessary to be successful and there are several things parents and caregivers can do to support responsible behaviors while children are very young.
- Provide Routines: a large part of teaching responsibility is teaching routines and establishing habits of responsible behavior. Consider using a morning checklist or a visual chart to support children as they are learning what they need to do to get ready in the morning. As children practice getting themselves dressed and then putting dirty clothes in the hamper or clearing their dishes after a meal, they are learning good habits for cleaning up after themselves which is part of responsible living. Consistently referring to the checklist or chart as your child is learning new routines supports the development of independence while learning responsible behaviors.
- Start Small: toddlers especially enjoy “helping” throughout the day. Providing children with the opportunity to help with small tasks instills a sense of accomplishment. Invite children to help set the table or prepare a salad. As they grow, their responsibilities can grow as well.
- Praise their Efforts: when your preschooler excitedly exclaims, “I got dressed by myself!” smile at the backward shirt or mismatched outfit and praise them for taking responsibility to get dressed by themselves. Support your child as needed knowing the effort put forth in these younger years are building blocks for greater responsibility in the years to come.
As children grow, their understanding and ability to accept responsibility will grow as well. In the meantime, we can lay the foundation of responsibility by providing routines, starting with small tasks and praising their efforts.
Benson, H. (2010). “First Lessons in Responsibility for Toddlers” Retrieved from https://www.parentmap.com/article/first–lessons–in–responsibility
Friedman, A. (2019). “9 Tips for Teaching Kids Responsibility.” Retrieved from https://www.care.com/a/9-tips-for-teaching-kids-responsibility-1303120948
Stamps, L. (2006, Aug 28). “Responsibility: Raising Children You Can Depend On.” Retrieved from https://tip.duke.edu/node/745
The Parent-Child Program (2008, Feb. 29). “Teaching Young Children Responsibility.” Retrieved from http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Teaching_2/