When growing up, all kids crave more responsibility, even if they’re not sure what they will do with it. They want freedom; they want to feel in control of their lives. They want to answer to themselves and themselves only.
As a parent, you understand this is not something you can allow so readily. We’re all aware that letting kids answer to themselves is a recipe for disaster. However, just because you can’t let them go off and do their own thing doesn’t mean that you can’t still help them learn and understand the essentials of responsibility. After all, they are going to step out into the world by themselves at some point, and it’s up to you to help prepare them for being the most mature and responsible person that you can.
To do this, though, you’ve got to start teaching them about responsibility early on, as this will give them a fantastic base to build upon for greater success further down the line.
Give a Little Freedom
Giving kids freedom and letting them understand their boundaries will assist in drilling the idea of responsibility into their heads. This freedom can include allowing them to take the bus to get them onto a SMARTY unlimited data plan that means they can go wherever they please (within treason)v but are still only a phone call away should they need you or vice versa.
There is a danger that your kids will take advantage of this freedom, and this could be problematic. Along with the freedom that you provide, you also must set boundaries. They will have a time they need to be back home. There will be certain things they need to do before going out, such as homework or chores. While you don’t want to be overbearing, it’s worth discussing these boundaries with your child, so you both understand what is expected.
Hopefully, this leads to respectable freedom, where you can both trust one another.
Teach Them Value
Kids will never become responsible if they do not understand what value is. But how do you go about teaching them value?
They can have all the smartphones and tablets and games consoles they want, but if they are never held responsible for what goes wrong with them (only if it is their fault, of course), then they will never appreciate what value means and how they can take care with it.
You can teach them value by asking them to pay for required repairs, such as cracked screens or even lost items. This will teach them to be careful with their things, especially if they did not pay for it themselves and think more about what they are doing when messing around. Accidents happen, of course, but often, these accidents are rooted in carelessness.
While your kids should be responsible for material things, they should also be responsible for learning more and increasing their knowledge, regardless of what type of expertise they search for.
Encouraging curiosity is a fantastic way to help them learn more responsibility, and it’s a life skill that you cannot understate. Curious kids are likely to be more empathetic. They like to learn why things happen rather than just taking them blindly at face value, and this is a superb way for them to understand more about responsibility.
Whether it’s learning more about subjects that fascinate them outside of school hours or being a superb listening, without being nosy, asking questions and finding answers sets them up for a spectacular future where they will always be looking for the why behind the what.
Get Them Thinking
With curiosity should also come the ability to think, and it’s these problem-solving qualities that will ensure they develop into responsible and mature adults. Kids who think and consider a range of possibilities are likely to be much more successful than impulsive, seat-of-their-pants children. While there’s nothing entirely wrong with impulsivity in small doses, it doesn’t lend itself to responsibility.
It’s useful to help them understand to think before every decision. However, it shouldn’t be so that they never make a choice or do anything fun. With enough of an understanding of what thinking can help with before any action, they’ll get an idea of potential consequences and be able to act accordingly.
This should minimize the number of risks they take and also adapt their behavior to best suit their situation. They’ll know what could happen should they decide on one route, such as staying out late or splurging on a new game when they can’t afford it, and this will help them consider how this could affect their future.
Let Them Earn Their Money
Whether it’s chores, a paper round, or helping out around the neighborhood, teaching kids how important it is to earn their money is vital for encouraging responsibility sooner rather than later.
While you’re expected to support your kids up to a point, there will be a time where they need to find their own ways to earn a living. This isn’t to say let your children fend for themselves as soon as they turn 13, but rather demonstrate the benefits of earning a wage, saving, and using this money to live.
It’s always a nice feeling to earn money, and getting them to experience it early on will give them a fantastic work ethic while also teaching them to be self-sufficient. They may still ask for a little pocket money here and there, but whatever they do will mostly be with their own, hard-earned money.
Humans are naturally drawn to the idea of a routine. If something feels familiar and comfortable, it’s more likely to inspire positive thoughts. For kids, routines can be the building blocks upon which they develop successful habits that will help teach them responsibility.
You’ve likely already remonstrated positive routines that include chores before play or similar activities. These routines are not merely to help them get things done, but about rewarding themselves for positive behavior.
In the future, they’ll take experiences and use them to work out what to prioritize. Everyone wants to kick back and relax, but learning that it’s essential to get the boring, complicated stuff out of the way first will make kicking back and relaxing much more rewarding.
While you want to make sure your kids are self-sufficient and you don’t want to coddle them too much, you still need to be there to support them when they need it.
No one can go through life doing it alone, and knowing they have a reliable support network should they need it will make them more confident about making decisions. You’ve got to find the right balance, though, so it’s not ideal to come rushing to their aid every time they feel they’ve hit a road bump. Instead, provide a helping hand here and there, but from a distance.
Learning about responsibility means not relying on others all of the time. You will still be there to help them, but you should also encourage them to try to overcome issues themselves first.
Help Them Understand Time Management
No one likes the guy who is always late, and part of learning responsibility is to get to grips with and learn superb time management skills. It’s no good leaving the minute the bus should arrive because they will miss the bus. But that’s just one example. There are plenty of others you could consider that will get your child thinking about how to manage their time better.
It’s another example of understanding consequences, but this won’t happen if people are willing to wait for them every time. While it can sometimes be endearing, it’s something that doesn’t play well forever. There will come a point where friends will be sick of waiting around for them. They’ll be seen as unreliable. They’ll stop getting invited places.
Encouraging excellent time management won’t just help them in their social life, but also their professional life., if they can successfully manage to balance their life and find the time to do everything, responsibility will be natural.
Positive reinforcement through praise is something that all kids need, and when they’re trying to navigate the wildness of the real world, this praise is vital to their development.
However, you’ve got to pick your praise carefully. Don’t congratulate them for basic things, but instead give them props for things that can help with their personal development. This includes focusing on schoolwork before playing on the Xbox, or cleaning the dishes after they make something to eat rather than allowing them to pile up.
This praise will stay with them throughout their life, and they’ll recognize the benefits that these actions bring, making them a more responsible person in the process.
Responsibility is not something that develops overnight. It takes experience and learning from these experiences. There will be some occasions where your child makes a mistake, but that’s okay. As long as you continue to support them without allowing them to walk all over you, there is a fantastic chance that they will grow into a responsible and mature young adult who is ready to seek the success you always wanted for them.
*this is a collaborative post