Parent Connection: Teaching Responsibility

Parents often wonder what kind of tasks their children can be expected to participate in at home. Just how much responsibility should be given to a child? While many tasks are beyond a child’s thinking skills and physical capabilities, most of us do not see the tremendous potential we have as parents to teach children responsibility very effectively.

Every household should take advantage of jobs that can be done by children. It’s funny, though, that your child’s enthusiasm for certain jobs is often for the ones he or she really can’t do, like a three year-old setting the dining room table with your good china or a five year old  chopping wood. Children almost always overestimate what they can do. Another problem is that they have a totally different time sense than we do when they take on a job. In addition they are hardly what you would call skilled workers. We often have to come along and do some fixing. Sometimes children’s jobs seem like more effort than they are worth. But while child labor is not a great boon to you, it is always a great boon for the child.

Every child who carries some consistent responsibilities around the house gains from the experience. The child who has jobs to do feels fore a part of the family. He feels important, even competent, and yes, bigger.

Responsibilities help a child gain independence and self-reliance by learning to do a job and taking credit for it. This trait will help the child in school and in all of life’s endeavors.

But how does a parent get a child to maintain his/her first enthusiasm for routine jobs that need to be done? Rarely does payment for these jobs make a difference. But there are some things to try that might help:

Always give encouragement, not criticism.
Never, never nag. Remind once and follow through with a natural consequence such as no chores, no store.

  • No lectures, no threats. Simply carry out expected family fun times with children who have completed their jobs.
  • Don’t make it a major crime if a chore is not done, but don’t excuse it and cover up for it either. Children don’t do well with wishy-washy parents, but they also don’t do well with heartless, demanding parents.
  • Find peaceful happy times to talk lots with each other about the roles everyone plays in the household. Help your child see how important his/her role is to you. Having a regular schedule of times to do jobs, works best.

Now a word about the watchful eyes of your child! You can count on your child learning responsibility if he/she sees you taking responsibility seriously, such as being on time, carrying through with a promise, and watching you regularly gain satisfaction from a job well done. The example you provide in the home can do wonders in teaching this valuable life trait.

…..Karin Klein, Administrator, Red Hill School, Red Hill, PA.

Parent Connection Archive

The Busy Bin
Praise and Encouragement
Your Child’s Fears
Your Child and Play
Teaching Your Child Responsibility
Make a Book With Your Child
Getting Ready For School
Learning to Laugh
Learning to Eat Healthy Food
Encouraging Creativity
Stress and Children
TV and Children