How to teach your child responsibility

By admin
10 June 2014

Are you desperate for a way to teach your child to look after their possessions? Here are our eight top tips to teach your kids to be more responsible.

One of our Facebook moms recently asked for advice to teach her seven-year-old to be more responsible. He keeps losing his lunchbox and is always forgetting to write down his homework. Here’s some advice from the experts:

  1. Set an example and the standard for responsible behaviour: Children learn by example. When your child sees you taking responsibility for little things such as getting to places on time, keeping your promises, not making excuses or blaming others for your mistakes they’ll learn the benefits of being dependable.
  2. Assign responsibility gradually: There’s no magic age at which children suddenly become responsible. They learn about being responsible gradually, in much the same way they learn to walk and talk:

  • Preschoolers can begin taking responsibility for putting their dirty clothes in the hamper and putting away their toys after playing with them.
  • Kindergarteners should be ready to help set the table for dinner, make their beds and keep the pet’s water dish filled.
  • Primary-school kids can fold and put away laundry, help clean the house and even help prepare meals.
  • High-school kids can take on new responsibilities around the house each year until – as older teens – they can be expected to help out by doing many of the things any adult would do.

  1. Make the chore a game: We all enjoy tasks more when they're fun and social occasions. Your pimary-schooler will love helping to wash the car on a hot day if spraying themself (or you!) with the hose is allowed.
  2. Teach consequences: Learning to take care of things also helps a child develop a sense of responsibility. To get your child to clean up after an art project, inform him/her they won't be able to play with the crayons and scissors until the next day if they leave a messy table. The more you enforce the rules, the more likely they’re to clean up without being asked or at least without whining about it too much.
  3. Pick up a book: When it comes to reading time, select books that illustrate responsibility. Interesting characters and situations your child can identify with will hold their attention. Also, deconstruct the characters so your child will understand why they behave as they do.
  4. Make it easy to remember: Don’t expect your child to automatically remember their responsibilities. It’s a skill that needs to develop and just like any skill it gets better with practice. Teach your child to stop at the door before they leave for school and ask, “Do I have everything I need today?” or put up a bulletin board that posts chores, schedules and anything else your child needs to remember.
  5. Talk about responsible acts: Set aside a time each day to communicate about the day’s events, and periodically talk about responsible behaviour. Discuss specific examples of people your child knows, how they acted responsibly, and the personal and social benefits of doing so.
  6. Praise responsibility: Keep in mind that it’s just as important to reward your child’s responsible behaviour as it is to comment on their mistakes. In fact it’s even more important, because your praise and recognition means more to your child than just about anything else. Don’t overdo it, however, or it can lose its impact.

-Janine Nel


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