Raising a responsible child

Responsibility already is a long word on paper; its meaning carries even more weight. Parents need to teach their children responsibility for them to become successful adults.

Responsibilities are expectations of what we need to do. Young children learn to be responsible when it is expected of them to do chores such as tidying their bedrooms or putting away their toys.

Teaching them values

Children first need to learn values, to be able to distinguish between right and wrong, what is acceptable and what is not. The only place where your child will learn your values is at home. We can’t expect the school, friends or the community to teach them the right values because you never know what they will learn or copy from someone else.

Responsibility and respect goes hand-in-hand. A responsible child will also show respect towards other people and show acceptable behaviour.

Responsibilities of parents and children

A child’s responsibility is not only to have respect for their parents but also to obey them. A parent’s responsibility is to teach a child the responsibility, to discipline them and teach them the skills they will need in life.

“Do to others what you want to be done onto you.” We have a responsibility towards other people: family, friends and people in the community. Children learn by example. If you give a helping hand to others, your child will learn the same values and respect.

Children need to learn self-respect as well. It is part of responsibility. Therefore it is important to use your talents and reach your full potential.

A child should also learn to take responsibility for his actions.

Teaching responsibilities from a young age

Here are a few tips on teaching your young child to be responsible:

  • Give your child chores to do from a young age e.g. to pick up his toys. If you feel unsure about what your child is capable of, start with easy chores, if he mastered it, go to something a little more difficult to complete.
  • If you have a pet, get your child involved in caring for it. Let him help you to feed it or to clean its kennel. This way your child learns to take responsibility, to care for someone or something. He needs to learn that it is not always fun to do these chores, but they need to get done.
  • If he doesn’t want to participate in doing chores, motivate him to do it by trying to make it a little more fun.
  • Discipline is important for a child to realise that his behaviour is going to have consequences. Discipline needs to be applied effectively and consistently.
  • Put down clear boundaries en discipline accordingly when the rules are broken.
  • Play games e.g., “what do you think will happen if...” Make it fun for your child to predict what will happen next.
  • Be a positive role model – be responsible en show respect towards others.
  • Let him make some of his own decisions such as with what he wants to play with or what cereal he wants to eat for breakfast. Remember that if he made a choice, he cannot change his mind afterwards.
  • Help your child to set goals and to reach those goals.
  • Do not set unrealistically high expectations for your child.
  • Be cautious not to break his spirit by being negative about his achievements if they are small.
  • Give positive re-enforcement for completing an activity successfully. It need not be new toys or sweets, rather say “Thank you” or “I am really proud of you.”
  • Take your child to give old toys and clothes to shelters.
  • Teach him to save money. A piggybank is a good way to start saving money. He also needs to learn that nothing is for free, that we need to work for what we buy.

To be responsible prevents serious behavioural problems for your child in his future. He will be able to distinguish between right and wrong and taking care of himself and looking after other people.

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