Teaching Kids Responsibility

Raising responsible kids takes A LOT of effort. Consistent expectations, following through, teaching the skills and then teaching them again and again. One way my husband and I have approached teaching responsibility is to frame it as family work that each of us needs to participate in in order to keep our family running. Between all of their activities, all of our jobs and the wear and tear of 6 people on the house and cars, etc., there's no way my husband and I could do it without their support and we appreciate all they do to make things go. When kids feel needed and know they matter and belong to the family unit they are more willing to help, often without whining! 

Our kids also learn and develop character traits like responsibility by watching and listening to us. Do we complain about the things we need to do or avoid them altogether? We can easily fall into victim mode when it comes to our adult responsibilities and bemoan the fact that we have a home or a car or a job we "have" to take care of instead of recognizing these things and experiences as gifts. Expressions of appreciation for the help and gratitude for the ability to take care of these things rubs off on our kids over time. 

Here are a few more resources about the why to and the how to when it comes to teaching responsibility. Dive in!

The following are excerpts from the book Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen, Ed.D.

“Children do not develop responsibility when parents and teachers are too strict and controlling, nor do they develop responsibility when parents and teachers are permissive. Children learn responsibility when they have opportunities to learn valuable social and life skills for good character in an atmosphere of kindness, firmness, dignity, and respect.

We need to provide opportunities for children to experience responsibility in direct relationship to the privileges they enjoy. Otherwise, they become dependent recipients who feel that the only way to achieve belonging and significance is by manipulating other people into their service. Some children develop the belief, “I’m not loved unless others take care of me.” Others may develop the belief that they shouldn’t try because they can’t do very much that doesn’t invite shame and pain. It is saddest when they develop the belief “I’m not good enough” because they don’t have opportunities to practice proficiencies that would help them feel capable. These children spend a great deal of energy in rebellion or avoidance behaviors.”

In the book Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World, H. Stephen Glen and Jane Nelson identify the Significant Seven Perceptions and Skills necessary for developing capable people.

  1. Strong perceptions of personal capabilities: “I am capable.”

  2. Strong perceptions of significance in primary relationships: “I contribute in meaningful ways and I am genuinely needed.”

  3. Strong perceptions of personal power or influence over life: “I can influence what happens to me.”

  4. Strong intrapersonal skills: the ability to understand personal emotions and to use that understanding to develop self-discipline and self-control.

  5. Strong interpersonal skills: the ability to work with others and develop friendships through communicating, cooperating, negotiating, sharing, empathizing, and listening.

  6. Strong systemic skills: the ability to respond to the limits and consequences of everyday life with responsibility, flexibility, and integrity.

  7. Strong judgemental skills: the ability to use wisdom and to evaluate situations according to appropriate values.

Here are few more articles if want to keep going down the rabbit hole:

https://www.southlewis.org/Page/942

https://centerforparentingeducation.org/library-of-articles/responsibility-and-chores/developing-responsibility-in-your-children/

What have you found works for you when it comes to teaching responsibility?