As a parent, one of your greatest responsibilities is to teach your children how to handle themselves responsibly in the world. But how do you raise a responsible child? How much responsibility should you give to your child? When is it too much and when is it too little? The truth of the matter is that kids will be responsible to the degree that we support them to be. They want responsibilities, so that they can begin to take control and feel confident about the tasks that they have taken on.
So, what might be your responsibility quotient? For young children, it’s important to pick one task and consistently expect your child to do that task on a regular basis. It keeps them motivated and it teaches them that they have duties that will help to make the family’s world more organized.
The trick in good parenting is allowing your child to do some of the work in their own way. Kids need to know that they can come up with some creative solutions to family tasks. That can be difficult when you want them to do it a certain way, but truly allowing your child to have the courage to be imperfect gives them a sense of confidence and conviction. Just imagine, if you will, that your child is to pick up six articles in their room each day. You’ve asked them to keep their room clean by keeping six articles picked up, and at the same time they may choose to put the articles in places that you would not normally have them organize in that way. When starting out, it’s important to allow them that freedom and autonomy. It keeps them feeling good about themselves, and it is so important to teach your children that they can contribute to the common good of the family.
Noticing the effort and not the outcome helps kids to know that they’re moving in the right direction. Certainly, as they get older, you will encourage them to do things in a way that becomes a regular part of your family routine. Your job as a parent is not to get them to do it your way, but in shaping a child to know that they can contribute in a meaningful autonomous way to the family. Some day they will do these things by themselves and you will have realized that you started a good pattern of development for your child.
Think back to some expectations you have had of your children. Were you able to notice their effort and did you comment on them in a positive way? It is so important for parents to be encouraging, as that motivates a child to want to try harder.
There is no doubt that parenting is the toughest job in the world and yet there is a certain psychology that promotes family organization and cooperation. Notice the times that your child contributes in a meaningful way to the organization of your house. If you ask them to set the table, make sure to comment that they really made the table look pretty or organized. Kids understandably want to be recognized for their accomplishments, as do we all, and will want to try harder to take on more responsibilities when they feel that they are moving in the right direction. You can make a meaningful difference in your child’s life just by noticing the initiative they take to be responsible and to help out the family in a cooperative way.