In the book How To Have Kids with Character, author Nadine M. Brown cites a study where successful men and women had one trait in common—they had been given responsibility at a young age. It can be diificult (and sometimes messy) to teach kids responsibility, especially when it’s often easier to do it yourself, but helping them to become successful and contributing members of society makes it worthwhile.
Help Your Family to be Responsible
Here are some ideas from Brown’s book on ways to overcome the most common challenges when teaching responsibility:
- Attitude is everything! Make work as fun as possible, rename chores “acts of service” and discourage whining.
- Don’t expect perfection, or require that your kids do things exactly how you would do it. Try not to redo their work if it’s not done how you would do it.
- Reward and praise small efforts, and then reward and praise some more.
- Start small with a simple system for your family giving set deadlines for specific tasks.
- Don’t give up. Kids will eventually learn with enough repetition, consistency, and determination. Think long term; the earlier kids learn to be responsible without complaining the better it will be for everyone.
Game: Responsibility Charades. Take turns acting out household tasks or occupations (doctor, fireman, policeman, mom). Discuss ways to be responsible in these occupations.
- The Super Red Racer, Junior Discovers Work by Dave Ramsey;
- The New Baby (also called Baby Dear) by Esther Wilkin;
- Berenstain Bears: A Job Well Done by Stan and Jan Berenstain;
- Arthur’s Pet Business by Marc Brown.
“I will” statements. Encourage responsibility in your family by committing to the following statements. Say these “I will” statements aloud with your children, and encourage them to apply them to situations in their everyday life:
- not make excuses
- do my work to the best of my ability
- correct my mistakes
- know and do my duty.
Sarah Holmes specializes in family character consulting and has three young children. Find her at www.theparentingmom.com. I Will statements courtesy of Character First, www.characterfirst.com. Editor’s note: This is Sarah’s last column for MetroFamily; we extend our heartfelt thanks to Sarah for her contributions.