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.
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