How to Teach Responsibility to Your Child

Kids who learn to be responsible have a huge life advantage.  In learning responsibility, they have to know how to problem-solve and think creatively.

Begin TODAY with this:

ask your child questions, instead of providing answers.  

Get her to think through problems and consider possible solutions . . . so she can begin making decisions.

For example, a seven-year-old asked his aunt, “Can I bring these candies with me to the funeral?” His aunt answered, “Think about the situation.  We’re going to a very quiet place to say goodbye and be respectful.  Let me know when you decide what you want to do.”  The boy thought about this for a few minutes, and then told his aunt that he’d decided not to bring the candies with him.

Another:  A toddler was screaming because she was put in her crib for the night.  Dad came to the door and very calmly said, “If you want to continue screaming, I will close the door.  If you decide to be quiet, I will leave it open.”  She thought for a moment, and then sat down and began to look at her picture book quietly.  Dad left the door open and went back to his activity.

And this teen made a responsible decision:  At 9 pm he asked Mom if he could go to his friend’s house. She resisted the urge to say, “No way!  You haven’t done your homework, and it’s LATE!” Instead, she saw an opportunity for him to think and problem-solve, and said, “Think about how much time you need for your homework, and how much time you need for sleep, then decide.”  Her son decided to go to his friend’s house for 15 minutes.

In the above cases, it would’ve been a no-brainer for the adult to tell the kid what to do.

Plus, even though we can do things for our kids faster and probably more efficiently, at first . . .

when we “do” for our kids what they could “do” for themselves,
we rob them of the opportunity to grow and learn.

Give her opportunities to contribute to the family, and let her know how important her contribution is.  And not just the garbage-take-out and dog-poop-scooping, but also age-appropriate tasks that get more recognition (see list).

And if she’s 7 or older, get her an alarm clock and teach her how to use it (actually, some younger kids can even do this well).  She’ll never learn to get herself out of bed on time if YOU take the responsibility away from her.  She needs to feel the consequences of oversleeping, and how great it feels to be self-reliant when she gets up on time.     (note: be willing for her to experience the consequence. Without your “I-told-you-so‘s”.  We go deeper on all this in our personal and group instruction .  Just know that any benefit of learning will be negated if you begin lecturing about missing school, etc.)

Keep asking yourself,

“What am I doing for my child now
that she may be ready to take responsibility for doing on her own?”

Make sure you see Tasks Children Can Do to Learn Responsibility.

Be sure to reply below and tell us what creative ways you’re encouraging responsibility in your home..


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