Something that we parents complain about a lot and that generates many conflicts in families is that our children are not responsible.
In addition to the personal burden of our day-to-day life, there is the extra burden of the little things of our children, especially when they start primary school when they have to start studying, do some homework, take books to school, etc.
That is why it is of utmost importance that our children acquire the value of responsibility and that as parents we educate them in that line since they are small for their well-being and that of the family in the present, and for the future adult they will be.
Table of Contents
- Here are 12 tips to make your children a little more responsible 😉
- 1.- Assign small home chores adapted to their age.
- 2.- Doing fun homework at home
- 3.- Value them when they do small responsible acts
- 4.- More independence, more responsibility
- 5.- Encourage intrinsic motivation
- 6.- Do not rescue him when he forgets something.
- 7.- Let your child make small decisions
- 8.- In small conflicts, do not solve, guide him/her.
- 9.- Find their strengths
- 10.- Rules and limits
- 11.- Education in values
- 12.- You don’t sit down with them to do the school homework.
Here are 12 tips to make your children a little more responsible 😉
1.- Assign small home chores adapted to their age.
From a very early age, it is important that children begin to take charge of small responsibilities (always according to their age). To do so, assign them small tasks:
- 2-3 years: Put away their toys.
- 4-5 years: Help set the table. Pick up his plate when he finishes eating.
- 6-7 years: Make his bed. Doing homework on his own
- 7-8 years: Prepare his own backpack, put his books away, etc.
2.- Doing fun homework at home
All children like to have fun and, for this reason, many of them, when they are told that they have to do homework, besides seeing it as an imposed obligation, see it as something boring, and prefer not to do it.
But the fun nature of children can be exploited by us adults. We can combat this belief that all household chores are boring by choosing those that are more dynamic as a starting point.
Figuring out how to motivate them is something that, at first, may seem very complicated, but sometimes it is enough to play music in the background and dance while cleaning the windows, mopping the floor, and folding the laundry.
3.- Value them when they do small responsible acts
Responsibility is too abstract an idea for children so that even when they are responsible, they are sometimes not aware that they are. That is why, especially for children, it is good that adults know how to recognize when they are being responsible.
Showing our children that we are happy and proud of them when they do their responsibilities encourages them to keep doing it. There is nothing a child likes better than to see how happy his parents are with him. Tell them so, lovingly reinforce all their efforts.
If they are told that they have been responsible and that they have done well, children will be able to see that it does not seem so complicated to them to do the tasks and obligations. They may even see that they are responsible people without even thinking about it, doing homework and tidying their room automatically.
Thank them for what they are doing, and reinforce this behavior by means of positive phrases and congratulations and, very occasionally, some material reward, such as candy, their favorite food, or a video game, always according to what they have done.
But, at the same time, it is very important to avoid falling into the dynamics of bribes and “I promise you that”. Don’t promise them a reward if they do a task they are supposed to do on their own, nor threaten them if they don’t do it.
The reward, which is a reinforcer, should be used after they have done their chores, and without previously being told that they would receive it if they did the task in question.
Bribes are very problematic since children will always perceive them as a kind of contract: “I do this and you give me my reward”. The moment we stop giving the “reward”, the child will go on “strike”, or at the very least the child will have a tantrum.
4.- More independence, more responsibility
As far as is fair and appropriate for their age, it is advisable to give the child or adolescent a certain amount of space. Encouraging their autonomy is a very good strategy to awaken in them a certain responsibility.
The more autonomy, the more responsibility, translated into having to apply problem-solving strategies on their own, learning to organize their lives, and respecting the due time for everything, such as doing their homework first and then playing that much-desired video game.
In addition, the advantage of giving them autonomy is that we don’t have to be so dependent on them, encouraging their own decision-making criteria. On the contrary, if we are always watching what they do and what they don’t do, they will never grow up, let alone be responsible, which will be a real problem when they reach adulthood.
5.- Encourage intrinsic motivation
It’s good for him to see that when he does things well we are happy but, ask him ” How do you feel? Do you like the way you feel when you pick up the room?”
And for children who are facing, for example, exams, if he shows you an exam that has gone badly, instead of reprimanding him, it is a good formula, before telling him our opinion ask him “How do you feel having got that grade? Would you like to have got more? What do you have to do then for it?”
This way we encourage him to gradually do things by himself, because he feels better this way, and this in the long term will make him take responsibility for his own things and not depend on the assessment of others exclusively.
6.- Do not rescue him when he forgets something.
To make responsible children, they must experience the consequences of not being responsible. If, for example, he forgets his lunch for school, it is useless for you to take it to him. If you save him and solve everything for him, he will not be responsible because he knows that mom will solve it in the end. Maybe he forgets one day but he will surely do better the next time, trust him.
7.- Let your child make small decisions
Empowering his/her decision-making ability enhances his/her responsibility. This is especially helpful if, when they have homework to do, they are given two options to choose from. The freedom to make their own decisions should be commensurate with their age.
Little by little and as the child grows, it is good to let them make small decisions. Just as, according to their age, they should take responsibility for small tasks, it is also good to let them make small decisions.
So, if children make a bad decision, but show that they have not done so with bad intentions, but simply because they have made a mistake, they should not be punished. They should be made to understand that it is through mistakes and examples that people learn.
Example: Let him choose an extracurricular activity he likes, let him decide what to wear, etc.
8.- In small conflicts, do not solve, guide him/her.
It is important that before any small conflict between equals, we give our children some time so that they can solve their own conflicts. Be attentive to the situation but stay in the background. Let him see that you trust him and that he is capable of resolving his conflicts.
Giving them greater autonomy implies that children learn to be capable of resolving their own conflicts, both with themselves and with others.
The seriousness of the situation and how capable the child must be of resolving it should always be taken into account. It may be a simple scuffle with a sibling over a toy, or it may be worse, such as a physical fight at school with a classmate. In this case, it is clear that it should be dealt with by the parents and teachers of those involved.
If, for example, two siblings can’t agree on something and argue over a toy, don’t give them the solution right away, give them time to resolve it. If they do not succeed, give them time to reach an agreement. In these cases it is very good to act as a mirror: Describe the situation and let them choose based on the options through a non-directive but directed dialogue where we want to go ” Guys, so there is a toy that you both want, and you are both sad and angry because you want to take it today first both of you ( describe the situation as it is), so what can be the solution so that both of you are happy, what can you do to play both of you with the toy?”
9.- Find their strengths
We all have some tasks that we don’t like to do, either because we are lazy or because we are not good at it. As adults we try to be responsible and even though we don’t like it, we put up with it and end up doing our responsibilities, some leaving it for later and others starting already and getting it out of the way as soon as possible.
Obviously, the same thing happens to children. There are many things they don’t like to do because they are lazy or not good at it. But just as they have weaknesses, they also have strengths, and that’s where you can address the issue of responsibility.
If you assign children activities that they are good at, even if they are mandatory chores, they will be more motivated to do them.
For example, if your child likes to put things in order, or classify different objects (magazines, books, plates…), a very good task for him/her would be to set the table, to help with the shelves or to place the dishes once they are clean.
The idea is to find the activity that best suits him, so that he starts helping us with the housework and, over time, when it is the day to do chores, he has already internalized the activity so much that he starts to do it automatically.
10.- Rules and limits
Establishing rules and limits, always appropriate to the age of your children, is highly recommended so that children grow up learning to be responsible by not breaking them.
Establishing rules and their consequences is very useful since it helps children know, from an early age, how to behave and what awaits them if they act irresponsibly.
It should be noted that setting these rules and limits does not mean that children and adolescents will magically comply with them.
However, it does help to shape their temperament, especially taking into account that the transgression of these rules will imply negative consequences, which will make them appreciate the importance of having complied with them.
11.- Education in values
Responsibility is a value that goes hand in hand with commitment, duty, and obligation.
It is recommended to value the child so that he learns to value his behavior, how responsible he is, and to foster in him a greater sense of self-confidence, security, and a better coexistence both with his parents and with his siblings if he has any.
12.- You don’t sit down with them to do the school homework.
He is the one who has to study or who has homework to do. If you sit with him you take on his same responsibility. Do not sit with him. If you have any doubts, let him ask you, but he is the one who should sit with him.