Raising responsible children

Responsibility is a long word on paper; its meaning carries even more weight. Responsibilities are expectations of what we need to do; taking charge of certain situations. Young children learn to be responsible when it is expected of them to do chores such as tidying their bedrooms or putting away their toys.

Teaching them values
Children first need to learn values, to be able to distinguish between right and wrong, what is acceptable and what is not. The only place where your child will learn your values is at home. We can’t expect the school, friends or the community to teach them the right values because you never know what they will learn or copy from someone else.

Responsibility and respect go hand-in-hand. A responsible child will also show respect towards other people and show acceptable behaviour.

Responsibilities of parents and children
A child’s responsibility is not only to have respect for their parents but also to obey them. A parent’s responsibility is to teach a child to be responsible, to discipline them and teach them the skills they will need in life.

“Do to others what you want to be done onto you. We have a responsibility towards other people: family, friends and people in the community. Children learn by example. If you give a helping hand to others, your child will learn the same values and respect.

Children need to learn self-respect. It is part of the responsibility. Therefore it is important to use your talents and take care of yourself physically and emotionally.

Children should also learn to take responsibility for their actions.

Teaching responsibilities from a young age
Here are a few tips on teaching your young child to be responsible:

- Give your child chores to do from a young age e.g. to pick up his toys. If you feel unsure about what your child is capable of, start with easy chores, if he mastered it, go to something a little more difficult to complete.

- If you have a pet, get your child involved in caring for it. Let him help you to feed it or to clean its kennel. This way your child learns to take responsibility, to care for someone or something else. He needs to learn that it is not always fun to do these chores, but they need to get done. 

- If he doesn’t want to participate in doing chores, motivate him to do it by trying to make it a little more fun. 

- Discipline is important for a child to realise that his behaviour is going to have consequences. Discipline needs to be applied effectively and consistently. 

- Put down clear boundaries and discipline him accordingly when the rules are broken. 

- Play games e.g., “what do you think will happen if..." Make it fun for your child to predict what will happen next. 

- Be a positive role model – be responsible and show respect towards others.

- Let him/her make some of his/her own decisions such as with what he wants to play with or what cereal he/she wants to eat for breakfast. Remember that if he/she made a choice, he/she cannot change his/her mind afterwards. 

- Help your child to set goals and to reach those goals. 

- Do not set unrealistically high expectations for your child. 
Be cautious not to break his spirit by being negative about his achievements if they are small. 

- Give positive re-enforcement for completing an activity successfully. It need not be new toys or sweets, rather say “Thank you or “I am really proud of you.

- Take your child to give old toys and clothes to shelters. 

- Teach them to save money. A piggy bank is a good way to start saving money. He also needs to learn that nothing is for free, that we need to work for what we buy. You might want to read about these money lessons for kids.

To be responsible prevents serious behavioural problems later in life. Responsible children will be able to distinguish between right and wrong and take care of themselves and looking after other people.

You might want to read more about emotional development