As a parent, you must teach your kids how to be responsible adults. Other than modeling this behavior in your own life, how can you make sure they understand their role in society? Here are a few tried and true tactics all parents can use to impress responsibility upon their children.
Assign Them Daily Chores
Kids should be able to walk into a room and know that something needs done because at home, daily chores are an expectation.
“If you want to raise grateful, responsible children who become well-functioning adults, you need to get your kids to participate in household chores from an early age,” explains an article from Green Residential, a family-owned and operated property management firm in Houston.
“The more you know about what motivates them, the more likely you are to be successful in this pursuit,” the article continues, pointing out that making chores a punishment and failing to do chores yourself will be utterly demotivating to children.
Give Them a Project
Assigning your older kids a project that takes a little longer to complete is a great way to teach them natural gratification. This goes beyond doing the dishes daily or picking up toys. For example, you might assign your 10-year-old son control of a portion of the flower bed. If he fails to water and weed it, he’ll see the consequences very quickly. On the other hand, if he masters his responsibility, he’ll see beautiful results. It’s a great way to teach all kids the natural consequences of taking ownership and responsibility.
“Do It Myself”
How many times have your kids said to you, “I do it myself!” or asked if they can help? In many cases, their definition of helping is actually making a huge mess that you have to clean up later. Because of this, many parents quickly say “no” or take over the job before the child can complete it.
Every parent does this because it’s utterly frustrating to let them make a mess. But this is the easiest way to discourage your child from taking responsibility and gaining independence. Each time they make a mess or fail, they’re learning something new, and if you continue to support their independence, they’ll one day be very good at the little things and feel confident in doing it on their own.
Offer Praise and Encouragement
Offering rewards to your kids for completing responsibilities can lead to a sense of entitlement. They might think that if they do an everyday responsibility like making their bed or doing the dishes, they’re owed a reward. Life isn’t like that, and when they find out that rewards don’t always follow responsible deeds, they might quit altogether.
That doesn’t mean you have to let your child’s actions go unnoticed, however. Praise your child for specific actions such as, “Thank you for making your bed on your own this morning!”
Encourage them to try again if they make a mistake. These positive vibes will trigger the internal rewards center in their brains, so they’ll want to repeat those actions. This will help them create a habit, even if you don’t praise them every day forever.
Create a Routine
Your daily routine does more than keep you organized when caring for your children. It also creates an environment in which they can comprehend and thrive. You can set up a routine that ends positively to reinforce behavior without offering rewards. For example, your child’s routine might go in this order: Eat breakfast, brush teeth, get dressed, play with toys, put toys away, eat snack.
Playing with toys and eating a snack follow some of the “chores” on this list. They’re the end result of this structure, but they’re not exactly rewards. Instead, they teach your child that they can enjoy the daily structure of their lives much more if they quickly accomplish the necessary tasks first.
Teach Natural Consequences
The best teacher is nature. If left to their own devices, kids usually learn a lot about how the world operates, helping them develop a strong sense of responsibility for their actions.
For instance, you might tell your 8-year-old daughter not to cut up newspapers because it will make a mess. She might not listen. The natural consequence here is that she has to clean up a mess she made, and she doesn’t get to play with scissors anymore.
Please note that you should never let your child be in harm’s way to teach them natural consequences. However, sometimes, your children get hurt anyways, and it can be a good way to teach them.
As an example, say your son jumps off the last three steps of the stairs every morning. You tell him daily not to do that or he’ll get hurt. However, he doesn’t listen, and one day, he hurts his toe. At this point, use that natural consequence to reinforce the fact that risky behaviors lead to painful consequences, and you’ll instantly instill greater responsibility in your child.