How to teach kids responsibility

Responsibility is something that everyone needs to learn in order to one day be an independent adult. Below are some reasons as to why you should teach responsibility to your kids and how you can do it.

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Why is teaching responsibility important?

Some parents think that responsibility is something that kids will naturally pick up as they get older. However, most kids need guidance in order to be responsible. 

If kids don’t learn responsibility at a young age, they will likely struggle to do things independently when they are older. They may have no motivation to move out, get a job, clean up after themselves or take care of their finances. This may even develop into anxiety and depression. This is sometimes known as ‘failure to launch’ and could require a failure to launch intervention. Teaching responsibility when your kids are young could prevent this – and you can start as young as toddler age. 

5 effective ways to teach responsibility

There are several ways in which you can teach kids to be responsible. 

Get kids involved in housework from an early age

Housework is a big part of responsibility. Try to get kids involved from an early age. Start with basic tasks such as asking kids to tidy up their toys or getting them to take empty plates into the kitchen. Eventually you can then start teaching kids how to make their bed or how to wash up. Find ways to make chores more fun such as adding some competition or doing them to music. As kids get older, you can start bringing in rewards to motivate them such as pocket money. 

Encourage kids to look after their possessions

Kids need to learn to be responsible for their possessions. Teach kids the best way of keeping possessions safe and secure such as always checking their school bag or getting them to put their glasses in a case. If a kid loses or breaks a favourite toy or their first phone, don’t replace it – some kids need to learn the hard way that there are consequences to mishandling their things. 

Let them look after plants, pets and younger siblings

Allowing kids to look after living things can teach them to be responsible for others. With young kids, you may want to keep it basic such as letting them water their own plant each day or teaching them to feed the fish each day. As kids reach 6 or 7, you can start considering pets like guinea pigs or hamsters if your kids want a pet. Encourage your child to do most of the feeding and cleaning out so that it’s their responsibility (although you may want to step in occasionally). You could also allow kids to help with basic care of younger siblings. Just make sure that you don’t offload too much responsibility too soon – older siblings shouldn’t be treated as free childcare.

Praise acts of responsibility (especially those done independently!)

Make sure to praise your kids if they carry out chores without being prompted. This can help them to feel proud of taking responsibility and could encourage them to continue doing things independently. 

Be a responsible role model

If you don’t act responsibly, your kids may not see the benefit in doing so either. Make sure that you’re cleaning up after your own mess and being responsible with your belongings. Your kids will see this as behaviour to aspire to. 

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