Responsibility is a child taking on a task because it needs to be done and that it is his obligation to do so. Instilling responsibility is definitely a value that follows through to adulthood.
Teaching kids responsibility is best to begin during the toddler years where most tasks have yet to form a dominant habit. If you don’t start relinquishing small tasks like putting the laundry clothes away or after meal dishes away, it may be harder to inculcate more responsibilities as they grow older. Raising a responsible child is preparing him for the real world out there.
Letting your child help you with a task helps him learn and sow the seeds of responsibility. It is never too early to know how to raise a responsible child.
Tips on how to raise a responsible child
Reasonable tasks between the ages of 1 to 6 are:
1. Putting away toys
As young as 18 months, you can hand each toy to your toddler and tell him where to put it away after play. It may take more time, but it is worth the learning process.
2. Setting up the table
Give your toddler the simple task of setting up the cutlery for meal. You may handle the breakables and your toddler can do the easier non-breakables set up. Try not to be too perfect about the placements.
3. Cleaning up spillage
Don’t be quick to scold or clean up spilled mess. Give your toddler some paper towels to clean up. You may need to finish up the job, but not till you have imparted responsibility.
4. Watering the plants
Give your child the responsibility of taking care of the greens. A cute watering can or even a toy watering can will be able to inspire and complete his task.
5. Helping in the kitchen
Many simple tasks can be completed in the kitchen without knives or fire. Get your toddler to cut out cookies with a cookie cutter, add ingredients to a pot or wash the vegetables.
6. Trashing at the bin
It is common for an excited child to savour his chocolate or candy without trashing the wrapper in the right place. Ensure that the bin is always accessible for him to execute responsibility.
When out, hold the trash till he comes by a bin. Responsibility is out of home too.
Teaching responsibility to older kids
Older kids who have started formal schooling should already be proficient with the above tasks. As children get older, it may often be an emotional tug of war when it comes to implementing change and routine.
Small daily changes can add up to a big change. Keep trying.
Here are some ways to get started with teaching older kids responsibility:
1. Organising wardrobe
Teach your child to fold and put away his/her clothes in his wardrobe. Your child should also be able to identify clothes that no longer fit, and declutter the wardrobe from time to time.
2. Packing school bag
Learning to pack their own school bag is an important skill for older kids.
Your child will learn to take ownership of his/her school learning, be attentive and know what to pack in and out for school. Should your child happen to forget to pack certain items that are needed for the next day, he/she will learn from this mistake and will take note to be more careful the next time round.
3. Ordering food
Give your child opportunities to interact with the adults at food kiosks and restaurants. Task your child to order his/her own drinks and food while reminding him/her to be generous with his/her “Please” and “Thank you”.
4. Making breakfast
Start with the weekends. Teach your child how to put together a simple breakfast. Cereal and milk or bread and butter are easy tasks for kids of school going age.
Be it a handheld or bulky vacuum cleaner, older children will be able to function it when taught. Teach them how to use it, where to retrieve and keep the vacuum cleaner. Implement a weekly task to clean their own room.
6. Cleaning the toilet seat
Boys especially, should be responsible in cleaning up the toilet seat if the aim is bad. They should always walk out of the bathroom without leaving traces of mess. They need to learn to care for properties in the communal areas too, whether home or public.
Teaching kids about responsibility isn’t easy. No part of parenting is anyway.
It can take years and lots of practice, but once responsibilities are established in duties and chores, character is built. It does not take a lot of knowledge on how to raise a responsible child, but by praising, showing and modelling responsibility, we can impart much.
Don’t be afraid to give your child independence or teach consequences, it helps them as well as yourself. Responsibility goes a long way. Knowing how to raise a responsible child begins largely in the home.