How to teach your child to be responsible?

18 November 2022
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One of the many roles of being a parent is teaching your child how to be responsible. Responsibility, when nurtured at a young age can help raise reliable and empathetic adults. Financial, social and relational accountability are all skills that can be developed and encouraged at a young age. This makes it easier for them to inculcate them over the long term without much fuss. However, different kids have different temperaments and learning patterns. This can make incorporating virtues of responsibility and kindness feel like a challenge. If you want to raise a responsible child, you need to be kind, firm, supportive and empathetic. Listening to your child's inputs and learning patterns, and inculcating them into your instructions is the best way to raise a responsible adult.

Make chores fun
Children tend to have lower attention spans as compared to adults. This means they won't ever focus on a chore and see it to completion. That said, your goal as a parent isn't to get your child to do chores, but to make them enjoy participating in them. Turn your routine laundry session into a fun game to get your child’s attention. The task of building excitement for regular chores might make it more difficult for you as a parent. However, the end goal is to inculcate a sense of autonomy, participation and responsibility at home as a child.

Appreciate their little achievements
When it comes to kids, a little appreciation can go a long way in building healthy habits. You can let your little one know that they've done a good job whenever they do. It could be helping out their sibling, feeding the dog, picking up fallen stuff or anything else. Apart from that, experts believe that praising your child can also boost self-worth, make them recognise their positive actions and feel proud about them. Positive emotions resulting from praise encourage kids to proactively inculcate the actions that led to them.

Be supportive throughout
Scolding or punishing your child for not showing up may create more fear than responsibility in their mind. A child's sense of responsibility should come from a place of joy, not fear. So if your kid spills milk, don’t give them a hard time for it. Use this as an opportunity to encourage them to clean their own mess. Take joy in showing them how satisfying it feels to leave no stains behind. Reinforce the fact that in your house, “everyone cleans up after themselves”, through words and actions.

Encourage respect and participation
As a parent, treating your child with the same respect as an adult might be hard. However, certain words and actions that convey respect might help hone their self-esteem and encourage them to be the same as others. Instead of ordering your child to do something, try asking them. Use phrases like, "could you please do this for me?" or "could you list the three things we do after waking up?" (eg - brushing, bathing and eating breakfast). This encourages them to participate, makes them feel respected and boosts their self-worth. Moreover, they will learn to treat others with the same respect too.

Build financial awareness
An ideal way to inculcate financial responsibility in your kids is to give them a monthly allowance based on their needs. It could be for their library, their lunch or other knick knacks. A limited income will encourage them to save for what's important and spend only when necessary. Apart from this, you can also make it a rule that they pay for their own damages, such as lost library books, a broken cell phone or cracked windows. Keep in mind that the kind of financial responsibility you impose on your child will change with their age. Try not to give them more than they can handle and be there to help them make decisions in the initial stages.

Your child will develop the best habits if you are kind and supportive when they mess up. Try not to label them as "irresponsible", scold them or punish them when they don’t show up. Apart from that, when they see you being kind and responsible, they will model your behaviour and follow suit. However, it is important to listen to them and know when something is beyond their emotional or mental capacity. You might need different resources on how to teach responsibility to a teenager vs a preteen. This way, your child learns to be responsible and autonomous without feeling pressurised.

At the Podar Education Network, children are encouraged to be their best versions by nurturing their mental and emotional well-being. Teaching responsibility to students is one of the many areas we prioritise for their long-term development. Head to our website to know more.

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