Who is responsible for your actions or your behavior? You are. No matter if you’re a toddler, youth, tween, or an adult. You are the one who is responsible for what you say, what you do, your thoughts, and your actions. I recently took a great adventure with a dear friend who said to me, “I just know my friends are going to love you” and I responded with, “I hope I don’t do or say anything to embarrass you”! Her response was, “It’s all on you” and that made me think!
We are responsible for who we are always, nobody else is. While I worked in the Public School system when a child would say to me, “my mom forgot to put my homework in my backpack” I said to them, “It’s not mom’s responsibility to put it in your backpack, it is yours.” How do you teach your children to be responsible?
When our kids were younger there were consequences when they didn’t do what they were asked, or if they didn’t follow the rules of the house, etc. Our kids were not just awarded something, they had to earn it. They knew what their chores were for the week and if they didn’t accomplish these, they didn’t get their allowance. If they got in trouble at school or in the community, something that they treasured at the time – such as video games – were taken away. This was teaching them that they needed to be responsible for their actions.
It’s very important to teach your children that they are responsible for who they are, of course, age-appropriately. For example, you wouldn’t expect your two-year-old to just go brush their teeth before they go to bed, this is something you do nightly with them until they can handle this on their own. When your child signs up to play a team sport, you don’t just expect them to get out there and play like a pro, you practice with them so that they will play their best at the game. Same for a musical instrument, a child is responsible to practice to play well, they are responsible to study for a test, they are responsible for their chores, etc. and all of this is teaching them to be responsible. We had consequences in our home, too; nothing major, just something enough to make our kids think twice about the next time. They learned what responsibility was and this made them proud of who they were, and it made us proud to see them become better versions of themselves!
Below are some simple tips to teach your children:
1. That they are responsible for their attitude
2. That they are responsible for their choices
3. That they are responsible for their homework
4. That they are responsible for the things they say and do
5. That there are consequences when they are not responsible
Teaching a child to be responsible at a young age will have a lasting impact on who they become as an adult.
Create a Responsibility Chart with your child to personalize what they are responsible for in your home. An open discussion as to what this trait means is very useful. Explain to them that they are responsible for cleaning up after themselves, putting away their toys, putting their plate in the sink, etc. Not to mention school work. Today our kids get homework and it'll be no different come the fall when schools open back up again. After their homework is completed, where should it go? Most likely in their backpack. You might add to your chart to wash your hands when you get home, etc. Whatever you feel comfortable with discuss it with your child and reinforce it on their chart. Use positive reinforcements and they are sure to follow your directions.
Get creative with your children! I for one am a visual learner and put in some fun and creative visuals and I'm all in! Making a paper bag puppet can be fun and an easy way to introduce the trait responsibility. I always encourage creativity, feel free to share your puppet with us sometime!
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Married with children since 1981. Love working with children and sharing the Characters of Character.