Being responsible is an important life skill for kids to start learning while they are young so that they can interact with the world in a helpful way. Here are some ways to teach your kids about responsibility.
By: Laura Lebovitz | LAMFT at Grow Counseling
Build the right expectations.
Work to create an environment where kids are responsible for not only their own self-care but also the family’s well-being in age-appropriate ways. Find ways your kids already help and praise them even if it’s just helping their sibling up when they fall or throwing away their trash. Start asking kids to help with tasks around the house. Show them that when they help out more and take responsibility of their own self-care that they get to make more of their own independent choices.
Let kids “help” even if it creates more work for you.
Building their desire to help is more important than having the job done quickly or perfectly. Letting them help, especially when it’s a mess they made, teaches them that we are all responsible for our own messes. When they spill their drink, pick up the paper towels together and patiently show them how to clean it up. Over time letting them help with routine tasks helps them build a desire and confidence to care for themselves and the environment around them.
Build a routine.
Instead of telling them to do each individual task as they are getting ready for school or bed, try asking them what they need to do next to get ready. Over time, this gives them the opportunity to manage themselves and become independent in their routines through repetition. It may even be helpful for them to make a written schedule to help themselves keep track of their regular tasks.
As you are responsible for tasks, talk about them out loud so your kids can learn through you. You can say, “Now that dinner is done, we all take our plates to the sink” or “Sometimes it feels easier to leave our shoes on the floor, but we have to put them away.” This helps kids notice the tasks you are completing throughout the day and gives them ways they can take responsibility for themselves and help the family.
Laura Lebovitz is a licensed associate marriage and family therapist that works in the Suwanee area at GROW Counseling. She received her Masters of Family Therapy from Mercer University School of Medicine. She works with children, adolescents, young adults, and families dealing with a variety of concerns. She specializes in working with anxiety, autism, self-harm, life transitions like divorce, and building healthy relationships within families.