When we talk about responsibility in children, it has two aspects. The first aspect is about
taking responsibility for tasks related to self, others and life in general. The second aspect is
about taking responsibility for personal actions and mistakes.
Both types of responsibilities are crucial for children to learn for their holistic development
and to become good human beings. Here are some ways to go about it!
Lead by Example
If you habit of not keeping your things organized, then you can’t expect your children to
take responsibility for their belongings. Similarly, if you have yelled at some family member
and refuse to apologize for your action, then the children will think that what you are doing
is right. Parents have to model responsible behaviour to teach children to follow in their
Assign Them Age-Appropriate Chores
Children can learn responsibility only when you incorporate it into daily living. Give them a
few chores a day. Some examples are:
Make the bed
Put the dirty clothes in the laundry basket
Pick up the newspaper from the door
Load the washing machine
Babysit the sibling
Offer a glass of water when guests visit the home
Help with meal preparations in the kitchen
Put toys away
Feed the pet
These chores will not only give them a sense of responsibility but also teach them life skills
necessary for adult life.
Let Them Mess Up – It’s OK
It would be unkind if you expect perfection from children. Remember, they are still learning
to do things and navigate their way to life. Their young minds are delicate and if you scold
them for not doing something right, they will carry the moment as guilt or embarrassment.
They might lose confidence in doing the same thing again. So, if you have asked them to fold
blankets and they have failed to do it properly, then ignore it. At least, they did it. Show
them how it is done and over time, they will learn it with practice.
Give Them Pocket Money
Money management is a great way to help children take responsibility and develop financial
literacy. Give them pocket money and let them handle it their way. If you are not
comfortable with the pocket money concept, then you can give them small amounts of
money and send them to a grocery or stationary shop to buy their stuff.
Encourage Them to Solve Their Problems
It is a natural tendency for parents to rush to help children when they are in some kind of
trouble. However, you may want to hold back yourself before bailing them out immediately,
depending on the gravity of the situation. For example, if your child had a tiff with his or her
friend, let them figure it out to make amends. Only when you realize that the situation
demands your attention, then you take over. Encouraging children to address their issues
will make them responsible for their actions and also develop their problem-solving ability.
Create a Safe Environment for Honesty
Most times, children are afraid to admit mistakes because they feel ashamed or hold fear of
being punished. They feel vulnerable and wonder how you would react. Hence, parents
need to give them a safe space without any judgements. Let them come forward and talk to
you about your mistake. Do not react immediately by scolding them or making them feel
guilty. Instead, act calmly, take a deep breath and be patient. Urge them gently to tell you
what happened and why it happened. Once they share everything, teach them how they
could have handled the situation better and treat it like a learning opportunity.
It takes time for children to learn responsibilities. But, you need to lay the foundation while
they are young so that they can grow up to be responsible adults.