Let’s see, the one-year-old daughter of your neighbor puts her milk bottle in the sink as soon as she drinks it. Your best friend’s teenage twins clean their entire house every Saturday while she is at work, as their regular weekend routine. Meanwhile, your child sits in front of the TV all day and yells when hungry. What can you do in order to make your child a little bit more responsible?
It is never too early
If your child has lived its life for 12 years without any obligation, you can’t just suddenly spring responsibility on them and expect them to follow through. If you don’t want a future where your 18-year-old calls you on your way from work to ask you what’s for lunch, start teaching them responsibility as soon as you can, if it’s possible – while they’re toddlers.
Help them help you
Instead of being grumpy when housework time comes, fake that smile if you have to and invite your child to help you (but be prepared – the job is going to last longer for the first few times). By doing this, you will embrace team work in your family, spend some quality time with your child, teach them some new skills and eventually have much fun. Not to mention, whenever the child is invited to participate, they feel valued. They will in the end establish a sense of ownership towards their home and feel proud while maintaining it.
Show them the way
Sometimes we forget that all this is new for them. You will have to show your child how things are done. Start off with small tasks, for example, if your child wants an apple, show them where they are and how to wash them. Is your child always leaving dirty clothes on the floor? Put a hamper in their room and tell them to put the dirty clothes there in the future.
Also, make sure that their responsibilities are appropriate for their age.
Be a role model
You can’t leave dirty dishes from your breakfast on the table, ever! Remember you, are their role model in life – whatever you do, they will do to. After the meal is over, take the dishes and say “Now we are going to put our plates in the sink”. The “we” part is extremely important, because that way, you are showing them that you can together solve all the problems. Ask the other family members to do so as well. You will be amazed how fast these actions will become your child’s habits.
Even though they may seem lazy – children love to help and want to help. It makes them feel important and valued. Chores don’t feel like work to them. To make chores something they adore doing, praise them for every action.
Assign responsibilities gradually
Just like they learn to walk and talk, they also learn responsibility gradually. Kids in kindergartens can learn to get dressed, help you with silverware, make their beds and feed the pets. Elementary school kids are able to shower and wash their hair by themselves, help you with their school lunch, clear the table, load the dishwasher and clean their bedrooms. Teens can do almost everything you can: do the laundry, help with meals, mow the lawn, tidy up the house, babysit, etc.
Those dreaded teen years
As they get older, your children will become responsible not only towards you and your family, but to society and themselves as well. As they hit their teens, they will more often become exposed to influences you can’t control. However, if you lay your foundations right, you will not have to worry while your child is out and about.
Remember you need to have open and honest conversations with your children about every subject they want to discuss – be it masturbation or marijuana. If they tell you they are curious to light up a joint, your first reaction needs to not be yelling. Read up on the subject on websites such as Shango, and arm yourself with information to present to your teen.
Teaching your children responsibility is not an easy task, but, when you think about it, which part of parenting IS an easy task? If you stick to this advice, you will raise a responsible child that will grow into a responsible adult.