My niece passed on her precious Barbie dolls to my kids as she had outgrown them but within a few weeks of my kids receiving them one doll’s head has snapped off(no idea how!) , another’s leg is broken! Yet another’s hand has snapped off! I pondered on this for a while, how to teach kids responsibility and why is it important for parents as well as the children. Every day at school pickup time, my kids would have lost something or forgotten something at school. Sometimes we realise this before we leave the school. Sometimes we realise when we are already home.
Does this all sound familiar?
Why is responsibility important?
Teaching children to be responsible is important so that they know what they understand what is expected of them and what will be the consequences of their actions. For example, children should know that it is expected of them to tidy up the room after they have finished playing with their toys. They should be taught that if they push their sibling from the stairs, the sibling is likely to get seriously hurt.
If you do not persevere and teach your child responsibility, you cannot say that ‘my child does nothing!’
Foundation has to be built from a very young age
From a very young age, children have to be taught how to be responsible. For example, you can teach your toddler how to put all his/her toys away, in a toy box. At that age, you have to show them with action, and make them copy you. From a young age, they have to be taught to clean their own mess. As the child grows make it a ‘rule’ that they have to pick up all their toys and tidy up the room before they go to sleep every evening.
Praise and encouragement are very important in children’s upbringing. Make sure you acknowledge or praise them whenever they act responsible. My daughter has the habit of forgetting her things in school like her school cardigan, her water bottle or her reading record. Very often something has gone missing. On the days she brings “everything back”, I praise her “well done for bringing everything back”. If she has lost something in school, I ask her to go to the Lost &found; and find her things herself in the break time. I only ask the school if she is unable to get her stuff back.
Help with the chores
As per the age of the child, make them help you. Soon you will learn which chore they enjoy the most. Start them off with the chores they enjoy. For example watering the plants in the summer or helping with putting away the laundry. Then slowly introduce them to things which have to be followed on a daily basis like clearing the table after every meal. From the age of 3, I made my kids put their plate in the sink after meals. By the age of 8, they would have to rinse their plates and put them in the dishwasher.
Don’t over expect
Children are not going to do a perfect job. Recognise the effort and the intention.
Self-care and looking after things
Self-care is also a part of making your child responsible. For example, taking showers on their own, washing hands properly before meals and after going to the toilet, changing on their own etc.
Also encourage them, to look after their things, books or toys. You can tell them that you can use only those things which are not broken or torn.
If sometimes your child is tired and is unable to put all his toys away, help him out but reinstate the rule the very next day.
It is a long process
This process of teaching them to be more responsible will last their entire childhood. At every age you will have to teach them to be more responsible – not only remember doing the things they already do but also get more responsibility.
Step-by- Step instruction
When we, adults go through any kind of training or a course, we learn faster if we are given step- by -step instructions. Same goes with children. When you start making child responsible or if you are giving a new chore to your child, give the step-by-step instruction. For example, you want the plates wiped before they are placed on the dining table. You can say, Wipe the plate first very carefully. Hold plate tight so it doesn’t slip out of your hand . Place each plate carefully on each mat. Do it slowly. No rush.
Responsibility brings bonding
When my younger child started primary school, I told my daughter, “look after your brother”. Whenever they have a joint play date, I instruct them to look after each other, be nice to each other and don’t leave the other out of the game you play with the other kids. Be there for each other.
Also, when you give them chores to do, they will feel included and involved in your life and this will create further bonding.
Responsibility brings trust
When you start giving more and more responsibility to your child, trust will automatically build up when the child executes all the chores to the best of their capacity. You have to remember to give them chores only as per their capacity and age. When you know that your child can complete a particular task well on their own, do not hover around them to see if they have completed the task or not. Leave them to it.
Responsibility brings self – confidence
When your child completes a chore satisfactorily and earns your praise, it will automatically increase their self- confidence. Next time they will say, “Mummy, I can do it”. This will feel very satisfying to the parent as well.
When we give them household chores, children will realise how hard parents work, to get things sorted on a day-to day basis. This will automatically make the child appreciate his/her parents.
It is never easy to teach your child to become responsible. It is a continuous process. But nothing about parenting is easy; the important thing is to make it fun for yourself and your child and being consistent. Sooner or later, they will start becoming more responsible.
Do you have any tips on how to teach kids responsibility? Please share via comment box below.