Three Ways to Help Kids Learn Responsibility


Responsibility(re-spon-si-bil-i-ty):

– The state of being the person who caused something to happen

– A duty or task you are required or expected to do.

– Something that you should do because it is morally right, legally required, etc.

This is the definition of responsibility, as provided by the Merriam-Webster online dictionary.  It’s a character trait that we hear about all the time.  It also comes out of our mouth, sometimes as a chastisement.  “Why can’t you be more responsible?”  Today, I’m going to share some tips that have worked for me as I have tried to Help Kids Learn Responsibility.  Responsibility is a HARD thing for children.  They need a lot of chances to be responsible and a lot of parental support.

Responsibility is such an important character trait. Here's three ways to help kids learn responsibility.

Give Kids the Chance to be Responsible

How can a kid gain something that he’s never been offered.  I’ve seen, all too many times, parents that try to do EVERYTHING for their kids.  The kids don’t have any responsibility.  I get that the parents are doing their best.  They want to provide everything for their child.  But, in so doing, many times, they take away valuable learning experiences for their kiddos.

Give kids responsibility.  Give them chores.  Have them make sure that the front room is clean.  Have them make their bed every morning.  Explain your expectations well.  Tell the child exactly what it is that you want done.  Make sure they understand.  Take pictures of a clean room.  Then, let them go.

To Do:

– Assign age-appropriate chores to your children.

– Make sure to explain your expectations well.

One of the responsibilities that our children have is completing their homework.

One of the responsibilities that our children have is completing their homework.

Allow Kids the Opportunity to Learn from Their Mistakes.

Set consequences for not following through on their responsibilities.  I hear a lot of talk about ‘natural consequences’.  These are great, but sometimes not feasible.  If my kiddo’s chore is to feed the cat, letting the cat die because of their lack of responsibility isn’t an okay consequence for me.  So, set consequences that will allow your kiddo to learn about responsibility in a manner that works for everyone.

One of my kiddos struggles with the responsibility of keeping his bedroom clean.  We had some friends of ours over, and the kids in that family were vocal with their dislike.  This hurt my son, but it was a great lesson.  He now does better with making sure his room is clean, at least when he thinks that company might be coming over.

Another time, one of my kiddos decided to ‘forget’ about a homework assignment.  She happened to remember, thirty minutes after bedtime, the night before it was due.  We don’t do homework after bedtime, and she was very upset about the fact that we wouldn’t help her with her homework.  We try very hard to make sure that all homework is done, but she had hidden this one from us.  The next day, she had to miss recess because she hadn’t turned in her homework.  Mommy Crusader and I were the mean parents, but she decided to remember to do ALL of her homework during homework time.

To-Do:

– Allow kids the opportunity to fail.  Don’t do their chores for them.  Help them if appropriate.

– Allow consequences to happen.  Use natural consequences if they make sense.

Giving toddlers chores helps build their responsibility from a young age.

Giving toddlers chores helps build their responsibility from a young age.

Model Responsibility for Your Kiddos

Our kiddos really are our mini-me’s.  They do what they see us do.  They say what they hear us say.  They model how we act.  So, we need to model how we want them to act.

If we say that we are going to do something, we need to do it.  We need to follow through.  This includes all aspects of our life.  Our kiddos see how we treat our own employment.  Do we do it correctly, showing up on time and keeping our commitments?  If we don’t, our kiddos will know and model that behavior.  Do we model our commitments at church?  With our friends?

Most importantly, do we keep up our responsibility with our kiddos?  If we said that we will go to the park after Soccer, we need to go to the park after Soccer.  If we promise our kiddos a special treat after their chores are all done, then, we need to keep this commitment.  If we, with our actions, can’t model responsibility to our own children, then should it ever be a surprise if they don’t keep their commitments that they made with us?

To Do:

– Model Responsibility

– Keep our commitments to our children.

Part of our Kid's Responsibilities include helping each other.

Part of our Kid’s Responsibilities include helping each other.

How to help our kids gain responsibility

In conclusion, although it is hard to teach kiddos responsibility, it is a very important task.  It is important that we give our kids the chance to be responsible, that we allow kids the opportunity to learn from their mistakes, and that we model responsibility for our kiddos.

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