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Smart Parenting 2017: Teaching Responsibility to Your Children

When parents are asked about the traits they would like their children to have, one of the most common answers is to be responsible. There are many meanings of being responsible such as keeping one’s word, meeting one’s commitments, being dependable, doing something to one’s ability, being accountable for one’s behavior, acknowledging mistakes, and being an asset to one’s family, community, and society. Parents often associate obedience with responsibility. Most parents instruct their children to follow their directions without questioning their authority. But these are not the qualities of being responsible because these are behaviors of being obedient.

Over time, many parents want their children to accept ownership for a chore or task, and their children do it because it needs to be done, and eventually they accept that it’s their obligation to do it. Your children may even initiate performing a task over time with constant reminder and practice because it needs to be done and not because they are being told to do so, which is a good attitude of being responsible. Parents may need to give up their own exact timetable and how they like things to be done, and allow their children to move from being obedient to being responsible according to on their own pace. Allowing a child to freely do on his own way with certain degree of limitation will encourage a feeling of pride and accomplishment, fostering a sense of responsibility. The issue about the extent of involvement you need to do when helping your children in meeting their commitments and completing their tasks is raised when considering the transition from obedience to responsibility.

There are many parents who do not want their children to suffer or fail, so they do so much for their children, and when this happens, they don’t learn to take responsibility by themselves. But there are also some instances when children need the guidance and support of their parents so they can learn the sense of responsibility. It is important to find the balance between under-parenting and over-managing by knowing and deciding the most appropriate time to step in, and when it is more effective to let your children go so they can develop maturity and responsible behaviors. Joining extracurricular activities, keeping a pet such as a butterfly koi or puppy and giving your children household chores or tasks are just some of the things you can ask your children to do in order to develop their sense of responsibility. The best role model when it comes to being responsible for your child is you, so it is important to internalize and assess your own actions and check if you are setting a good example or not.