By Mark Brandenburg
We'd all like our kids to develop into responsible people. How can we help to ensure that our kids learn the lessons of responsibility? Here are some ideas:
1. Start them with tasks when they're young.
Young kids have a strong desire to help out, even as young as age 2. They can do a lot more than you think if you're patient and creative. This helps build confidence and enthusiasm for later tasks in their life.
2. Don't use rewards with your kids
If you want your kids to develop an intrinsic sense of responsibility, they need to learn the "big picture" value of the things they do. They won't learn that if they're focused on what they're going to "get."
3. Use natural consequences when they make mistakes.
If they keep losing their baseball glove somewhere, let them deal with the consequences. Maybe they have to ask to borrow one for the game. Maybe they have to buy a new one if it's lost. If you rescue them every time they screw up, they'll never learn responsibility.
4. Let them know when you see them being responsible.
Specifically point out what you like about their behavior. This will make it more likely to continue to happen.
5. Talk often about responsibility with your kids.
Make responsibility a family value, let them know it's important.
6. Model responsible behavior for your kids.
This is where they'll learn it from. Take care of your stuff. Try to be on time. They're watching you very closely.
7. Give them an allowance early in their life.
Let them make their own money decisions from an early age. They'll learn their lessons in a hurry. Don't bail them out if they run out of money.
8. Have a strong, unfailing belief that your kids are responsible.
They'll pick up on this belief and they'll tend to rise to the level of expectation. And keep believing this even when they mess up!
9. Train them to be responsible.
Use role play and talk to them about exactly what kind of behavior you expect from them. It's hard for kids to be responsible when they don't know what it looks like.
10. Get some help and support for your parenting.
It's hard to know sometimes whether you're being too controlling or too permissive as a parent. Talk to other parents, read books, join parent support groups, whatever will help you feel like you're not alone.
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