Teaching children how to be responsible isn’t just something that will benefit you in terms of giving you a child or teenager who is happy to carry out chores and doesn’t complain. It will also benefit the child because as they grow older this life skill will help them to get further, both at home and in work. They will be more well-rounded individuals and perhaps even be more successful because of their responsible nature. At the very least, they will be good people to be around, and that’s important.
Teaching a child how to be responsible can be a difficult task. There are lots of factors to take into account, such as the child’s age and personality. However, it is an important thing to do, no matter how difficult it may seem, and here are some tips on how to get started.
It would be unfair of you to suddenly turn to a teenager who had never been asked to carry out any responsible tasks before and ask them to do them now. Not only will they have no idea what they should be doing, but they might also feel resentful towards you for changing how you treat them in such an abrupt manner.
It’s a far better idea to start teaching your child about responsibility and what they should be doing when they are younger, and ideally when they are at toddler age, around two or three years old. When they are this little, your children are more receptive to new ideas and will follow your instructions without complaint. As they grow older, the responsibilities you are teaching them will simply become part of life – they’ll know how to make a sandwich if they are hungry, and how to pour themselves a drink. They’ll know how to feed the dog if it yaps, and so on.
It’s crucial that the tasks you give your child are age-appropriate. You wouldn’t ask a two-year-old to make a hot meal on the stove, but you might ask a 10-year-old to help out, for example. A teenager would be ideal for searching online for plumbing companies ‘near me’ when you need to call someone out, whereas a younger child wouldn’t do this job so well. This allows you to deal with the problem at hand, such as clearing the space around a broken and leaking pipe, so it is easily accessible by the time the emergency plumber gets there.
Let Them Help You
Little children love to help their parents out. They want to be involved in what is happening around the house, and it makes them feel grown up to be given jobs to do. This is another reason to start young when it comes to teaching responsibility.
It’s true that it might be tempting to say no when a child asks to help because their ‘help’ actually makes the task take longer, especially if you need to teach them what to do. However, think of this time as precious time spent together, and the teamwork you can manage between you will help you both in the future. If your child can help out and do a good job (or even a bad one) they will feel valued, and this will give them a positive feeling towards the chore. They’ll want to do it in the future, and the more they do it, the better at it they will become.
If you praise a child, you can easily set up positive associations between their actions and the task they carried out, and good feelings going forward. When they do chores, they won’t feel as though they are doing work (this is especially true if you start them young enough).
Remember to praise them for the smallest things they do around the house, and they will soon turn into good habits. They might hang their coat on the hook rather than leave it on the floor, or they might wipe their feet as they enter the house, or a million other little things. Notice everything and praise them for all of it, and it will continue with no problems.
Rewarding a child for a job well done is a different matter. It’s better to avoid rewards where you can since they will start to do jobs only when you’re around just so they can get a reward. This is not quite the lesson you want them to learn.
Manage Your Expectations
Remember that a small child is not going to be able to do every task you ask of them perfectly. They might get out of bed and make it, but it might be lopsided, for example. This is not the time to criticize what they have done. Instead, look at the positives and the fact that they did it in the first place.
At a later time, you can gently help them to get the bedding straight, and this is another skill they have learned for life. Or you can just be glad they are doing responsible chores around the house and not worry about whether or not the covers are straight; is it really important?
Taking the above advice into consideration will enable your children to learn the art of responsibility. You will appreciate all the extra help you are receiving around the house and they, in turn, will continue building on becoming a responsible young person.