Don’t expect your teenager to act responsibly if it isn’t something you’ve emphasized since early childhood. The key to fostering responsibility in children is to start young. When a child is able to understand conversations and directions, start molding him or her at that time. For a toddler, it might mean putting toys back in the bin or putting plates and sippy cups in the kitchen sink. Teaching responsibility doesn’t have to be overly complicated, either. You can start with small acts and slowly build on this foundation toward understanding what it means to take ownership of your actions.
Devise a chore chart
When children mature, an easy way to teach them responsibility is to make a chore chart. Depending on your child’s age, list items on a chore chart that he or she can complete on his or her own. The list can include making the bed, taking out the trash, folding laundry or setting the table for dinner. You can make this chart dependent on the needs of your home. This list will help your child visualize all the things that need to be done to run a home and that every person in the household needs to pitch to keep things running smoothly. Check out Kids Pointz for downloadable chore charts for examples and what rewards to offer for a completed task.
Praise kids for acting responsibly
Fostering any good habit requires positive affirmation. Most kids want to know that their parents notice their efforts. Saying, “job well done,” or “thank you for hanging up your coat” is an easy way for your kids to know that their efforts are noticed and there is a likelihood that they will continue this good behavior to get more praise.
Act as a good role model
Most kids replicate and learn behaviors from their parents. It is important that you model responsible behavior and show how you keep track of deadlines at home and work. Showing your kids that it is important to make a list before going to the grocery store, paying bills on time and even driving with diligence are all facets of acting responsibly. Kids need to see that you are behaving in a way that fosters responsibility.
Teach kids about consequences
Kids need to know that failing to act responsibly means that there are harmful consequences. As they get older, you can teach your children about calendaring their deadlines to complete everything and stay on task. Contact lenses are one example, where your children need to calendar a wear schedule to protect their vision and a purchase schedule to replenish their supply. Replenishment is made easier with tools from online retailers like Vision Direct to schedule automatic reorders. Emphasize other deadlines that center on projects around the home and school. When your kids fail to act responsibly, do not bail them out, and instead let them navigate their way out of the situation.
Have reasonable expectations
Don’t have unreasonable expectations and try not to criticize when kids attempt a task and fail. This demonstrates that they are attempting to act responsibly, but may need some help and guidance to succeed.