As parents we all want to raise our children to be responsible. The bottom line is that this does not happen without some sort of “game plan”. Please consider this, when we try to force and exert power, we are not guiding a child to WANT to be responsible. This is key. Forcing causes resistence and resentment. Eventually, a child will comply so he does not get into trouble with you but he will not learn why it is important to care about being responsible and he may not grow to WANT to become responsible. How many adults have you come across in your lifetime that resent or reject responsibility?

Children will not get out of control without punishment, they get out of control when they don’t have appropriate guidance. There is a difference. With guidance you show and you embody what you are teaching. Can you bring attention to the ways and the reasons that you are responsible and communicate this to your child in a way that does not sound like lecturing? There are golden opportunities everywhere. How do you feel about responsibilty? What energy do you carry around that?

Remember your child feels your energy even when you don’t speak about something. Your children are deeply connected to you and that is how they pick up your traits and “ways of being” to a degree.

First think about how YOU feel about responsibility. Can you embrace it with love and grace? Can you fulfill your responsibilities and show your child that it is something you are doing because you WANT to be able to eat healthy food, you WANT to live in a clean and organized home, you WANT and CHOOSE to serve and support your family doing what you are doing?

Remember to take your child’s developmental stage into consideration. It takes time and practice to learn responsibility and the more you connect and teach with love, the more your child will follow.

Young children are not hard wired to understand responsibility, this is a learned behavior. Please ensure your expectations are reasonable.

Use opportunities to set your child up to THINK about being responsible. For example, for a child over 7 years old, “I know how much you love your stuffy, if you want to bring it into the store, you must keep an eye on it and keep it safe or she will be gone forever. It is up to you to watch her – are you ready to do that?

If something happens, hold yourself back from stating, “I told you this would happen, see now you have lost…..” Instead I would like to invite you to try, ” I am so sorry that happened, I know that you were not expecting that. Next time what can you do differently?

Have a family meeting once a week or once every 2 weeks and set expectations of what each family member can do to support the “family team”. Have the children pick their tasks and write them down and post them on the fridge.

When your child forgets or does not “feel like” doing chores, remind him of the choice he made and, “in our family we all work together to make this work.” Instead of nagging try, “Honey I noticed that you have not fed the cat yet, I know that you love Oscar and that you want to keep him healthy and safe. I know that I can trust you to take care of him.”

These nudges and reminders do not shame or blame, they remind your child of his choices and how choices affect others.

Teach your child how his actions affect others. For example, “I know that when you are playing with Tracy and Marci comes over you would rather play with her, I am wondering how that makes Tracy feel?” OR

You said you would be at the park and when you left to go to Terry’s house you didn’t tell me, that makes me feel worried and afraid.”

Whenever your child acts responsibly make sure that you notice this and help him own how wonderful this is. For example, “Sam, Have you noticed how incredibly responsible you’ve been in the last week? You’ve been doing your chores right after school every day. I really appreciate that, it makes things so much easier for me. ”

Try the above tips and think about teaching responsibility as a mindset. Children can learn to care about being responsible when we set our intention to teach it through love and guidance and when we look into our own beliefs about responsibility. Children live in the moment and we must remember that responsibility is cultivated over time.

it is perfectly normal for a child to behave responsibly one day and not the next – this is a process. If you are reading this, you are clearly a loving, conscious parent dedicated to teaching your child HOW to learn without damaging his self esteem.

With the above steps you are helping your child feel and sense accountability. Asking questions helps your child think about choices. Asking questions with the right mindset doesn’t make your child feel like a loser, it makes him understand a bit more each time what it means to feel responsible and compassionate.

Melinda Asztalos is a parent coach, speaker, author and the founder of Life Positive by Design. She assists parents through a conscious parenting process that enables them to achieve and sustain, positive solutions to their specific parenting challenges. For more information, Please visit:
Be Sociable, Share!