When we think about the people we count on in life, one word comes to mind: dependability. Like the boulder anchoring a mountain-climber’s rope, a dependable person offers others stability and reliability without fear of disappointment or failure. Dependability means fulfilling what is promised, even if it requires unexpected sacrifice.
Three elements comprise the trait of dependability: people, promises, and prices. Dependability begins with relationships between people. Whether it is parent and child, student and teacher, husband and wife, or employer and employee, both parties rely on the other to do what is promised in a timely manner. The last part of dependability is the price. Sometimes keeping a promise requires sacrifice. Being dependable means paying the price to keep a promise, regardless of how costly it might become.
Teaching a child to be dependable with commitments, no matter how small, prepares him for more responsibility. As children learn faithfulness in small things, they become increasingly prepared to manage greater things.
Musk oxen are native to the Arctic areas of Canada, Greenland, and Alaska. They are social animals who live together in herds and depend upon one another for survival. When predators threaten the herd, adults form a circle around the calves, putting themselves between the young animals and danger. Using their long curved horns and powerful hooves, the adults stand their ground against hungry wolves.
I Will Statements:
- I will keep my word.
- I will make promises carefully.
- I will correct my mistakes.
- I will pull my share of the load.
- I will not have a bad attitude.
Doing chores and contributing to the family is an important step in growing up and learning to take responsibility. Being reliable and consistent in when and how the tasks are completed illustrates dependability.
To help children remember to keep their promises, encourage them to make a small booklet of the things others count on them to do. Use one sheet of construction paper and one sheet of white paper. Turn the pages horizontally and fold them in half. Punch two holes along the folded edge and tie with yarn or string. The booklet now has a cover and four inside pages. Brainstorm possible titles for the booklet with your child—You Can Count on Me, Brian’s Promises, or Natalie’s Commitments. Inside pages may be labeled with categories like family, friends, school, and community. Make lists of what is expected in each of those areas.
Writing down promises is a good habit to build. As responsibilities increase, it becomes easier to forget the things we are expected to do. The process of writing them out can make remembering more automatic.
Learn About Dependability
- Horton Hatches the Egg is a fanciful story by Dr. Seuss. Horton the elephant is hoodwinked into sitting on an egg by a lazy bird named Mayzie. An impossible plot, but it includes these inspiring lines about dependability: “I meant what I said and I said what I meant….an elephant’s faithful, one hundred percent!”
- Bringing Up Confident Kids Without Tearing Them Down: How to Raise Confident, Successful Children by Dr. Kevin Leman offers insight on teaching children to be dependable while building their self esteem.
The Character First Project is inspired by the work of the character Training Institute, a non-profit organization based in Oklahoma City. Character First! information is used by permission. Call 405-815-0001 for Character First! resources or visit CharacterFirst.com.