Raising a Responsible Child
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We all want to live in a world where people take responsibility for their actions and choices as citizens. This skill can start very early in a child's development and if handled with humor and in a fun manner, children will almost take to it naturally as they develop the confidence to master their own skills. All children want to feel powerful and in control of their own skills and if you teach them responsibility in a joyful manner, their self esteem will mature and give their lives meaning as they contribute to the family and eventually to the world.
Young children respond well to making friends with a puppet or stuffed animal. Once you have given a name and appropriate personality to the puppet, you will see that children listen far easier to the needs of their puppet friend. Woofie, the puppy, wants to pick up all the toys so that he doesn't hurt his paws when he trips on them. Woofie wants a smooth bed to sleep in so lets make up your bed every morning. What would Woofie do with his dirty bowl, he would put it in the dishwasher so that the ants don't get it. Oops, let's help Woofie mop up that spilt milk so that he doesn't slip and fall.
Parents can begin by helping children until they learn to do their own tasks successfully. The results will be very hit and miss for a while but, through repetition, they do get better at it. Children need to contribute to the family and it will eventually spill over into contributing to friends, and society as a responsible citizen.
Provide routines and structure
It is crucial to develop simple routines from the very beginning of a child's life. Besides avoiding chaos in the household, routines will give the child an opportunity to manage themselves through a series of boring everyday tasks. Be consistent!
Learning to help tidy up their toys at the end of a day is one task they can help with. Then there's the morning routine of making their bed, washing their faces and brushing their teeth. These are simple tasks that they can help with even though you may have to help a lot in the beginning. Letting them choose their outfits for the day, although you may have to turn a blind eye to some of their choices, will give them a sense of pride and be fun each morning.
As they get a little older, the basic life skills like doing laundry or making simple meals will come into play.
Value their good behaviour and contributions.
Make sure you comment in a positive manner when they do something good, no matter how small. When you acknowledge good behaviour, it will always grow. Complaining won't get you the same outcome as positive reinforcement will.
Make age appropriate tasks for children
There will be two avenues of responsibility that children will grow into: their own self care and the care and contribution to their families. Start off with giving the 3 year olds the napkins to place on the table. The 4 year olds can help match socks. Five year olds can help to brush the dog. Six year olds can clear the plates. Seven year olds can feed the dog. From eight years old they can help fold laundry and place it onto each family member's bed.
Let them do the thinking.
Give kids the chance to choose their chores and let them make the decisions as to what needs to be done first, around the house, This will give them a sense of being part of a household team. If children see a joint effort in keeping the house running and clean, they are less likely to complain or feel singled out.
Completing the Job.
Giving kids chores can teach them the importance of completing an assigned job. This will become more useful as your child gets older and has more responsibilities at school and at home. Helping kids to understand that it's not other family members' responsibility to pick up their dirty clothes or dishes will be a great life lesson. Giving kids chores can emphasize the value of keeping things clean and organized. Emphasize how much more play time they will have if their rooms are kept tidy and clothes in their place. It's easier to find things—and think clearly—when your environment is less cluttered. Getting your child into the habit of regularly picking up is a great way to not only build a good routine that will benefit her for the rest of her life, but will help remove the chaos in your house and make it more organized and peaceful.
Eventually, by appealing to their innate sense of pride and need to achieve small victories as they grow, children will enjoy the sense of pride and satisfaction they have when helping others. Just being able to feed the dog and seeing how happy he is will be an achievement.
You cannot underestimate the pride children will feel when they are given the opportunity to give to the greater good. That, in itself, will push them to make a habit of helping and doing their own chores with a more positive attitude.
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