Responsibility. What’s that? 5 Actionable Tips to Teach Your Child How to be Responsible.

I recently spoke to an aquatics director at a large facility. The majority of her faculty is made up of young adults ages 18-24. Each year this director is surprised by the number of new applicants whose parents call to try to get them a job working in her facility.

She refuses to hire those applicants. Why? Because if those individuals have not shown that they are responsible enough to find their own job, then she does not want to give them the responsibility to guard someone’s life while they are in the water.

Responsibility is necessary for future success. How do parents teach this important life skill?

1. Model responsibility. Demonstrate responsibility in your actions and then talk to your children about the things you do as a responsible adult. Talk to them about why you clean up after yourself, why you go to work, and how they can be helpful and responsible at home. Read stories relating to responsibility and talk to them about the choices the characters make in the story.

2. Avoid rewards. There may be certain daily tasks you expect your child do because he is a member of the family like picking up his toys and making his bed. These are the daily tasks that teach responsibility and should not be rewarded.

3. Praise responsibility. When your three year old proudly presents herself to you with her shirt on backwards and shoes on the wrong feet, praise her efforts and initiative to get herself dressed. She is learning responsibility.

4. Be patient and realistic. Adjust the task depending on the age and ability of the child. Many chores can be broken down into smaller parts or adapted so younger children can be successful. Remember that your toddler may very well drop a dish or two as he helps clear the table. Consider using plastic dishes for a time so that he is not in danger of breaking anything as he attempts to learn this skill.

5. Teach consequences. In the likelihood that your child is ever irresponsible, consider allowing her to deal with the consequences. For example, a child neglecting to do her summer reading and book report is more likely to take responsibility for her own actions in the future, if her parent does not “bail her out” now. It may be a very difficult lesson for your child to learn, but through loving guidance and consistency, she will learn it.

It is a parent’s goal to raise responsible children who ultimately grow to become responsible adults. The time to start teaching this skill is now, while they are young. Then, as they seek their first job they will stand out from the others because they demonstrate responsibility.


Age Groups:

Advanced Pre-K

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