Raising Responsible Children- Guest Blog by Tracey Clayton
Are you familiar with the pain of stepping on a Lego? It’s just flagrant. Every one of us can sometimes forget to clean up after ourselves, but if that situation becomes a pattern, that is a problem. The truth is that we don’t miraculously learn to be responsible and organized; it is something that we acquire as we are growing up. And it is certainly something that you want to instill in your kids, unless you want to find yourself in the situation where your teenager hijacks your car without asking, scratches it and fails to see what they did wrong. Here are some tips that can help you help them grow up to be responsible individuals.
Practice what you preach
Children learn by observing, and especially by observing their parents, since they are the people they spend most of their time with and look up to. Ask yourself; is there anything in your behavior you should change, anything that isn’t setting a good example to your kids? Maybe those piles of laundry stacked up on a chair? Or always being late to parent-teacher meetings and other events? This relationship goes both ways: as you are encouraging your children to be more responsible, they are motivating you to do the same.
Offer alternatives to bad behaviors
If children see your guidelines as orders, they will not be so keen to adopt them. For example, if you want them to stop jumping up and down on the back seat of the car, you shouldn’t order them to be quiet and still, you should suggest them to play a game instead (count as many dogs as you can on the road, for example). Do the same in other similar situations.
Your kids will hardly become responsible if you keep running after them collecting their clothes and toys and doing everything instead of them. Show a little faith in your little ones, and depending on their age assign them tasks in their room. Start from collecting the toys and move on to more complicated tasks. If you get a floor rug that is easy to clean, they can do the vacuum cleaning and even consider it a fun activity. As soon as they feel responsible for something they own, they will be able to build on that accomplishment.
Help them form habits
“We cleaned our room yesterday, why do we have to do it today?” Sounds familiar? Don’t worry, you’ll be hearing that for a couple of days, maybe a week, and then cleaning up will become a routine for them. Just know that the goal here is to give your kids guidance and the right structure, but they should be the ones in charge of developing those habits. You are just providing the groundwork for their success.
Ask for their help
Don’t mope and grumble when it is time to do some house chores. Ask your children to help you. If you do that with a smile and pride, they will be happy they can be a part of the grownup world. They will feel valued for being able to spend time with their role model. That way, your kids will learn to feel pride and joy in maintaining their home.
Commend a job well done
What you see as just a little task is a huge milestone for your children, and they like to hear that they did something well. If they stored their toys in a box, tell them you’re proud of them. Thank them for helping you with the dishes. These seemingly small gestures encourage them to take initiative in other similar situations. However, you should avoid giving them rewards like increasing their allowance or buying them a toy. This can create a wrong image about the reasons why we should act responsibly.
Finally, you should know that young children may find it hard to wrap their head around cleaning their room being their responsibility. Don’t worry about that. For a start, create a healthy structure and provide them with a routine that will later grow to be their habits.
About the author: