Teaching kids responsibility
How can you help your child to feel more responsible? Here's some parenting tips for encouraging kids to care for themselves, for others, and for their environment.
Responsibility implies being able to fulfill what is expected of us, and is a quality we acquire as children. We learn to be responsible progressively, at each stage taking on a little more, until we are able to consciously and skillfully handle ourselves as adults.
To accept responsibility we need to be able to plan and direct our efforts, and also consider the consequences of our actions. Such skills help us to commit ourselves seriously to goals, tasks, or obligations, and to maturely face the effort needed to fulfill them. The responsible person knows they must bear the consequences of their actions, whether good or bad.
Feelings of responsibility begin within the family, and reinforce socially established roles. The feeling of responsibility is based on affirmations. For example, parents are responsible for children, adults are responsible for the care of minors, and authorities are responsible for the well-being of the people.
Kids learn to become responsible over time, and there are lots of ways that we can help.
Being responsible ourselvesThe main way we can help kids is by being a good role model and setting a positive example of responsibility ourselves. When children see others behaving responsibly, they mimic the behaviour and internalise the value themselves.
Kids love to care!Kids love to show they care. Storyberries has lots of beautiful books on caring for family, for pets, for friends, for wildlife and for the environment. Have fun exploring the Storyberries library today!
Talking TogetherIn positive, age appropriate ways, we can invite kids to talk about the process of decision-making, and discuss some of the positive or negative consequences of the decisions they make. One important area we can discuss is that making mistakes is okay. Sometimes the best way to become responsible is by seeing what we have done wrong. If children make mistakes we can invite them to work on a solution.
Promoting autonomyPut simply, this means letting kids do things that they can manage to do on their own. It is so easy for us, as concerned and motivated parents, to get too involved in school activities, or to discourage kids from doing household activities. Instead, we want kids to be able to enjoy, and feel enriched by, vital opportunities for learning.
Valuing positive behaviourWe can promote consistency and self-discipline by recognising effort, and rewarding behaviours that show more responsibility: “Thanks to your care, the puppy always has the food he needs on his plate.”
Getting organised!We can provide older kids with tools so they can manage their own time and plan their own agendas. For example, we can encourage them to look at their class schedules and organise their own homework and assignments. This might include planning a schedule, deciding on a place to study, organising their materials by subject and doing their own problem solving.
Making family agreementsWhen it comes to organising, especially when different family needs may overlap, it is very useful to have family agreements (which could even take the form of simple written contracts). Family agreements help to identify different needs and also help family members to agree upon expectations. In doing so, they can provide structure, and prevent conflict.
Keeping Lala Land CleanIn this beautifully illustrated and simple to understand picture book, all the animals in Lala land help to keep things clean and tidy. A helpful book to introduce the idea of helping one another, and doing the things we agree to do.
Our Beautiful WorldAn encouraging and inspiring book for 7-12 year olds. Our Beautiful World describes the present challenges Planet Earth faces, and invites each of us to take responsibility.
Where is Thabo?Thabo loves playing football! It is Monday morning and the family are all in a hurry to get to work and school, but they can’t find Thabo! A beautifully illustrated, yet simply crafted, story that kids will love. A great story to introduce the themes of responsibility, taking care of ourselves and others, and of the consequences of our actions.
Article by Luzmery M. Romero Gamboa and Fleur Rodgers
Luzmery works in the area of clinical psychology as a psychotherapist for children, adolescents and families. Since 2016, she has run a Psychological Center in Venezuela called Psicoluz. She offers workshop facilitations to parents, is involved in recreational activities for children, and has been working as a freelancer since 2017 performing online psychotherapy.
Fleur is a meditation teacher in France and uses a compassion and loving-kindness based approach to meditation and slow-minded living. Fleur posts regularly to Instagram @rodgers.fleur . She has two children, is a qualified teacher in adult education and is the founder of Timeouttobreathe.com