The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Everyone wants to raise responsible and independent children. However, most parents don’t have the knowledge or skills to do the job right. If you’re wondering how you can foster responsibility in your children early on, the following information should be able to help you out.
Parents tend to confuse responsibility with obedience; however, they’re two entirely different concepts. Obedience refers to a child’s willingness to follow instructions and rules. An obedient child will do things because their parents or guardians ask them to do it.
Meanwhile, responsibility refers to a child’s ability to take ownership of their actions and obligations. It’s them deciding for themselves what to do because a certain situation calls for it. There is no external motivation from parents, mentors, or guardians.
It’s your duty, as parents, to teach your child responsibility. The earlier you begin the process, the better it will be for your child’s development.
Children tend to mimic what adults do — which is why modeling responsibility can help them indirectly learn responsibility. The brains of young kids are like sponges; they absorb everything they hear and see. If you want your little one to display responsible behavior, show them that you’re responsible yourself.
While it can be tempting to do everything for your child, letting them handle things on their own can help foster responsibility during early childhood. So, the next time your little one spills orange juice all over themselves, give them a “YIkes, your juice spilled. That’s fine, we can clean it up,” while you hand them a napkin or towel to wipe with.
Another way you can encourage them to handle things independently is to let them help out with household chores. Even when it may mean more work for you, letting your children take part in things like chores can make them feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves. This is also a great way to exercise your little one’s self-motivation and accountability.
Alternatively, when your little one asks for your assistance, do whatever you can to be of help. Children do better when they feel safe and understood in their environment. It encourages them to be more open about their needs and helps them develop communication skills at an early age. Taking responsibility is more than just completing tasks on your own. It’s also acknowledging the fact that some jobs require teamwork and initiative.
Forcing your children to do things they don’t like can backfire on parents. Instead of teaching them responsibility, you might very well be teaching them to rebel against you. A great example of this is forcing your little one to apologize for something they have done. When you force a child to apologize for a misdemeanor, he/she will do so without really meaning the words they say.
Empathy and kindness are two soft skills that are necessary for a child’s overall development. However, they won’t learn it if you’re always forcing them to do things they don’t want to do. Instead, ask your child why they acted the way they did. Let he/she express their feelings freely to you. Once they calm down, help them figure out how he/she can make the situation better.
Say you’re at the supermarket to pick up some groceries. Instead of doing all the shopping yourself, ask your little one to help with the chore. Let them pick out their snacks or lunch items for school. Give them a budget and instruct them not to go over what you’ve put aside. This activity not only allows them to think for themselves; it also helps to improve their problem-solving skills.
Routines can add structure and organization to a child’s life. This is why teaching your little one the importance of scheduling earlier in life can help them become better managers of their time. Not to say that you should restrict your child’s activities to specific chunks of time. However, encourage them to keep or follow a certain schedule so they can make the most out of their time.
It’s often said that parents have the toughest jobs in the world — and it’s true. They are entrusted to raise the future of society, which can be an overwhelming task for anyone. However, with the right tools and assistance, parents can raise responsible, kind, and caring children. The tips we shared today can help parents start to foster responsibility in early childhood and ensure their little ones grow up to be well-rounded citizens in the future.