Every parent wants to raise a happy, responsible child. But kids don’t come with manuals and instilling that sense of responsibility in them can be more difficult than you might first think. That’s especially true in today’s world, where people seem to take less accountability for their actions than ever before.
Regardless of the example being set by politicians and celebrities, though, there are lots of things you can do to teach responsibility to your kids. Here are five of the simplest and most powerful ways you can teach them about actions and consequences:
#1: Give Kids Clear Expectations
If you want your kids to be responsible, they have to know what they’re responsible for. That involves you setting clear expectations as a parent.
This doesn’t mean you have to be hard on your kids, or stern with them in punishments. Instead, it just means you let your kids know what the rules of your home are (no hitting, no name-calling, etc.) and let them know what happens if they break those rules.
This is a simple step, but one that prepares them for the kinds of limitations they’ll have to behave within for the rest of their lives.
#2: Start Small and Learn to Trust Them
It’s hard to teach your kids about responsibility if you handed it to them all at once. Instead, break it down into small steps and let them learn.
For example, a young child might not be able to fully grasp what it means to care for a new pet. However, he or she can understand that they need to feed a dog three times a day at certain points on the clock.
By setting these kinds of small expectations, you pave the way for your child to learn responsibility. Plus, you’ll get a chance to see what sorts of jobs you can trust them with, so you can safely increase their responsibilities later.
#3: Explain the Importance of Your Instructions
It can be very tempting, especially when you’re frustrated, to tell your kids they need to do something “because you told them so.” And, while that might occasionally work, they probably aren’t going to learn a lot from the exchange.
A better tactic is to explain why something needs to be done, and how the task came to be their responsibility. When children can see and understand their place within the family, it’s easier for them to contribute. Plus, that’s a point of view that can carry over to the rest of their lives.
#4: Leave Them in Charge Once in a While
It’s hard for your kids to learn to be responsible if you’re always hovering and reminding them of the things they need to do. Give them some direction, make sure they understand, and then trust them to complete the tasks they are supposed to.
This can be difficult at first, but it shows kids that you believe in them. And, it lessens your burden over time, since it teaches you to rely on your children to follow through on their word.
#5: Set a Good Example
The best way to teach your kids about responsibility – or anything, for that matter – is to just set a good example. When they see that you’re accountable for your actions, and take care of the responsibilities that have been entrusted to you, they’ll naturally want to emulate that pattern.
Learning responsibility is an important part of becoming an adult and finding success later in life. So, the more you can do to teach your kids about responsibility now, the easier time they will have later.
It may not be easy, but instilling a bit of accountability in your children is a good way to prepare them for the real world. Give these five tips a try, and see what a difference they can make in your life.