Taking Responsibility

I want my children to enjoy their childhood, I do! Unfortunately, childhood only lasts so long and adulthood creeps up on us. All too soon, it becomes important for our kids to develop good work ethic and a strong sense of responsibility.

At what age do we start teaching responsibility? Honestly, I think it begins at birth. Our children start learning to be responsible by seeing their parents be responsible. As they learn to walk, talk, and play with toys, we teach them.

Teaching Responsibility

While the children grow up, their responsibilities increase. Instead of merely putting their craft supplies away, they now also sweep and vacuum; they set the table for dinner and help clean the house as well.

I think these are basics which help establish responsibility, but there also comes a time to start putting their responsibility to the test; letting our children make decisions on their own and learning the consequences of poorly made choices.

Before my child has to “sink or swim” in adulthood, what are some practical ways in which I can help my child learn responsibility?

  • Make Them Accountable – Chores, learning assignments, and more can be designated to our children. Make them aware of the “deadline” and allow them to rise to the occasion.
  • Decisions, Decisions – On occasion, we let our kids decide for themselves how they would like to spend birthday money, use their time, or help out someone in need. This will teach them to think critically and learn from their mistakes.
  • Encourage Independence – Instead of immediately rushing to help out, we allow the kids to struggle through and learn things on their own. The sense of accomplishment from dressing, bathing, and cleaning for themselves is wonderful.
  • Let Them Make Mistakes – This is by far the hardest area for me, but necessary. I would rather have them learn from little mistakes in my house than big ones in their own. Even if I think a decision might be wrong, I need to let them go through with it and learn a valuable lesson. This will encourage them to ask for advice and be more careful next time.
  • Praise Good Choices  When our children succeed in being responsible, I give them due credit; a “high-five”, a hug, or anything else which will affirm their good choices.
  • Be an Example – While out on errands, instead of just bringing them along, I want to explain why we are doing what we’re doing. Why do I have a budget? Why do we clean our house on a regular routine? How do I organize events and still make sure our household needs are met? Through our lead, our children see responsibility in action.

We have been teaching responsibility since our children were born. They learned to put their toys away, clean their rooms, and do their chores. Now we are in the process of teaching them to be responsible with their time and money.

As I mentioned, I am thoroughly enjoying my babies; I have no desire for them to grow up quickly. Grow up they must, however. In order to ensure adulthood isn’t a shock, we are slowly helping them adapt to the world of responsibility.

Veteran Parents: What helped your children the most, when it came to learning responsibility?

“For each will have to bear his own load.” – Galatians 6:5


12 thoughts on “Taking Responsibility

  1. All too often I hear of young adults who move out of home and have no idea how to turn on a washing machine or cook a meal. Were teaching these people how to survive out there. They need skills.
    No veteran advice, mine are still quite young, but I try to get them to put their empty cups away in the kitchen and tidy away one toy before pulling out another. As soon as they can carry that vacuum, I’m giving it up!!!


  2. I am certainly not a veteran parent by any.means, but I do remember some of what my parents did. The biggest example I remember is my sister and I both wanting to earn paddock boots to wear horseback riding. I think my mom had planned to buy them for us, but I had the bright idea that I was going to save for the pair I wanted, not whatever my mom was willing to buy. I cut out the ad for the boots I wanted and put it in a box with my money. Then my mom helped me put together a pretty simple “business plan” to earn that money. I was maybe thirteen when we did that. In the end I loved those boots so much I wore them everywhere. Surprisingly they still fit and lasted until I finally wore them out at twenty-one while working at a stable. My sister and I learned a lot about being responsible from that experience.

    We also learned a lot about responsibility through working at the stable we rode at. We both worked doing pony rides, grooming the horses, and getting them ready for lessons. It’s amazing how much jobs help with responsibility. My kids are going to have jobs at the festivals and faires we attend this year. Even my three-year-old can hand out trinkets or candy to kids. Babysitting is another great example. Learning to do a job and do it well definately helped me in adulthood. I hope it serves them too.

    Finally, having a horse taught us a lot of responsibility when I was a teen too. Taking care of another being is a lot of work, especially since our horse really relied on us. He’d still get fed, watered, and a clean stall if we weren’t there, but the grooming, affection, and exercise was all on us. We had to know which halter to buy, when to replace the brushes in our grooming kits, and select the right blankets for the weather. My sister took it one step more in being on top of vet visits and farrier visits.

    Now, I’m not saying running out and buying a horse is the way to go. Dogs and cats can be good. Rabbits and gerbils are always favorites. Chickens are another great choice because they produce eggs, which makes it even more fun!

    I don’t have much of my own parenting experience to go on, but I’ve got tons from when I was growing up!


    • Oh, and one more I totally forgot! My Girl Scout troop helped run a lot of events. We were in charge of different aspects of planning and organizing. It’s one of the reasons I lobe event planning today. Planning events as a group definitely encouraged responsibility because if one of us failed to do our part, the whole thing could easily become a disaster.

      My childhood may not have been perfect, but I can honestly say my mom set an awesome example for teaching good habits like responsibility!


  3. I think that we, as parents, set the stage for responsibility. We have to be a good role model and also allow them to try it out on their own. I couldn’t agree more on the importance of kiddos learning responsibilities.


  4. I totally agree with you. We as parents do a disservice to our children if we don’t teach them responsibility. I have two children in their 20’s and I am so glad my husband and I encouraged them to be responsible. They still make occasional mistakes (don’t we all) but they are doing well and figuring it out as they go.


  5. The funny thing about responsibility is the age of the child enjoying doing chores and the actual time when they can be helpful do not match. A 2 year old would happily “help” with the dishes while a 12 year old can seem to get away from them fast enough. So, I agree with you, we have to start wen they are ready and as soon as possible.


  6. This is so true – and so hard to do. Making them take responsibility and letting them learn without doing the task for them…those are so hard for me! But it is so necessary for our little ones to grow.Thanks for the encouraging post.


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