You want your kids to be responsible but knowing how to teach teach your kids responsibility may be a bit baffling to you. The key is to get the whole family involved in the process whenever possible. Remember, that it all begins with you, the parent, so let’s start there and then examine additional ideas.
Set an Example as a Parent
You may think you’re setting a good example by just doing your work and getting it done; but your attitude toward your work may be communicating an undesirable message. Here are some tips for setting a good example.
Have a positive attitude toward your work. Don’t complain aloud because your child will hear this and adopt the same attitude toward his or her chores and responsibilities.
Think of work as a privilege, whether it’s a paying job or household chores. In this day and age, having a job is something to be grateful for. Household chores, too, can be looked at as a privilege – if you were disabled, for example, you wouldn’t be able to clean your own home. Communicate your gratitude that you even have a house or living space to keep clean.
Get Family Members Involved
Older Kids Can Help Younger Siblings
To help teach responsibility in your home, consider having older siblings interact with younger ones. Some ideas for older siblings to do with and for the younger ones include:
- Helping with homework
- Fixing a snack
- Giving a bath
- Playing a game
- Helping get dressed
- Assisting with chores
Yes, pets are often considered to be family members, especially by the kids. Having a pet can help teach kids about responsibility. Even toddlers can help feed an animal or bring you the items you need (such as a can of food or a dish). Just remember that very young children will need more help and supervision than older children. Here are some ways that pet ownership can teach your child responsibility:
- Daily feeding
- Daily walking
- Scooping cat litter
- Changing cage bedding/cleaning a cage or aquarium
Some sources note some particulars with regard to pet ownership. They suggest not threatening to get rid of an animal if your child does not take care of it, as this may teach a child that animals – and by extension, people – are expendable.
To prevent forgetfulness, it may help to have a chart listing what needs to be done for the pet every day. Your child can check off the items as they get done and see what comes next.
Teach the Consequences
Consequences are said to be a good disciplinary tool that work better than punishment. But consequences also have a role in teaching responsibility. Allow your children to make some decisions on their own without your advice, and then let them see the consequences. This can be hard for a parent to watch, but letting your child handle the consequences is important. Here are some examples:
Save it or spend it. Give your child an allowance and allow him to spend it or save it as he likes. He will begin to learn that once money is spent, it’s gone, and if he is patient and waits, the money will accumulate.
Work now or play now. Let your child choose between chores and playtime, and let her know that if she plays now, she will have to do her chores later instead of going to a friend’s house or other fun.