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Teaching children to become responsible

Nimali Buthpitiya

Parenting is full of both challenging and exciting tasks. Among them, training children to be responsible can be named as one of those most important and challenging tasks.

The American advice communist Abigail Van Buren said if you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders. Another scholar said the greatest gift you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.

Why is it so important? Is it so influential on who they are today and who they will become in the future? What is meant by ‘putting some responsibility on their shoulders?’

As parents, we earnestly desire to see our children fly the nest as capable and competent grownups. In order to witness it, what we should teach them and how should we model them? When should we start training them?

Training a child to become responsible is something which could be started at any age. The beginning is to make your child become aware and experience that she or he is a valuable part of the family. This awareness can be further developed to a level where they begin to realize and act upon that understanding to play an active role in the family environment from the simplest ways they can. This is all about making your child become an active member of your team. This is where the sense of responsibility stems from.

Inculcating a sense of responsibility should be done gradually but regularly at the same time. If your child is schooling, encourage him or her to be more responsible in the morning before school. This may not sound that comfortable for certain parents. Most parents have developed it a habit to do every little thing for their child. However, If you desire to see your child coping up with circumstances much better when you are not around, my suggestion for you is to allow them to wake up a little earlier during school days to do simple tasks such as filling up their water bottles, putting their snack box into the bag or to wear socks and shoes etc. It is good to be available whenever they need assistance rather than doing everything for them. Help children realize that your family is a team and there is a part which each person has to perform in it.

In order to make your children responsible on how they spend their day, try to set up a daily routine or a ‘to-do list’ for them for each day. But, as parents, being reasonable is expected. Expecting them to perform more than their ability or loading their day with rigid schedules is not advisable. A list of things that need to be done during the day can be decided prior with their involvement. This will give them a sense of responsibility to perform them.

Help them especially at the beginning of the day to have a morning routine, which is very important. To brush their teeth and to take a wash, to wear new clothes, to put away dirty clothes and be ready for breakfast before it’s too late. It is essential that we set the example by doing these things as a practice, especially when we need our children to do what we want them to do. These are the most precious moments where we can support, encourage and model new skills and attitudes in them.

However, it is important to remember that, training responsibility is necessary, but concerning the focus of parenting, developing a healthy relationship should be our prime goal. Each child is different; we need to respect this difference when we are training them to become responsible. Placing unnecessary pressure on children or trying to rush them through the process should not be done. The less we rush the more they develop a natural desire towards building up confidence and doing things for themselves. Praise and appreciate when you see their little efforts toward being a responsible son or a daughter each day!

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