5 tried and tested ways to raise responsible children

Teaching responsibility to your child when both you and your spouse are working may be challenging, but it can be managed with the right approach

Woman teaching son to pack his tiffin; responsible children concept

Are you tired and frustrated with trying to teach your children how to take up responsibilities in your absence? Are you always in a state of overwhelm and hurry because both you and your spouse are working?

Take heart, for there is a way you can teach your children to act responsible. Kids, teenagers and young adults actually crave to be given responsibility. They may not realise it fully but they want to be thought of as “trustworthy” for handling responsibilities, just like you and I felt when we were at that age. After all, everyone wants to matter and be appreciated. This is fundamental to human nature.

Show, don’t tell

As parents, we must not simply demand compliance and blind obedience to our commands. If we appreciate that raising a child requires a new approach, we are ready to set new patterns in motion to allow the child to thrive in a new positive environment of learning.

What do we mean by positive environment of learning? It starts with a very practical and useful “coaching approach” that parents can easily learn and master.

Follow these five steps to make your children more responsible

1. Know your bottom line. Be clear about what you really want them to do. But do not demand it. Teach them the meaning of the word “responsibility” and make sure they understand it. When you are clear that your bottom line is actually about “helping them to learn to take responsibility and be accountable” then you are not simply going to shout out orders, but use coaching tools to allow them to be creative with learning about and accepting responsibilities. You may have to demonstrate how to do something that you expect to be completed.

2. Make a request. Not a demand. Make a clear and specific request in writing and put it where they will see it clearly. Do not rely on telling them—write it down. A request allows for a conversation and an explanation of how to do the chore or a certain thing you are requesting them to do.

3. Create teamwork. Make a list of daily chores and expectations for each person in the family. Everybody contributes to a happy home. Make a “chore board” for each person—parents included! That way you are teaching your children that they are part of a bigger plan—a plan that includes the entire family and in which every member contributes in different ways to the home and family. Make them feel special by telling them how much their unique participation helps the family. Everyone wants to feel special, needed and valued for their contribution. Also, make sure the chore board has a place to mark off when the action step is completed.

4. Teach accountability. This may be a big concept for children, so invest your time and effort to teach them what the word “accountability” means. Tell them that it means to “keep your word”, that you will do what you say you are going to do. Be prepared to have a long, patient conversation with your children and teenagers. They may not grasp easily what it means to be a person of integrity and high standards.

5. Be consistent. This is one of the core tenets of The Parent as Coach Approach. As a parent, you must make an agreement with yourself that teaching responsibility, self-accountability, keeping one’s word and integrity is something that may take time... even years. Do not give up on this. Teach this at every chance you get. If you “backslide” because you are tired, your children will know you are not sincere and do not keep your word. They will model what you do, what you teach and how you follow up.

Never be too busy for your kids

As busy working professionals, life asks more out of us—we must be more proactive, more determined to create quality relationship time and remain steadfast in our commitment towards our child’s wellbeing.

Get your children personally involved in your thoughts and ideas about running a happy home. Ask for them to contribute and participate as a valued member of the family. They too want peace and loving communication. Make sure you have a responsibility or action step for them in each and every activity. They will love to help!

Anchor your home on the teamwork, trust and cooperation you most likely already do at work—just take the same tools home with you! Make no excuses for being “too busy,” or “not having enough time”. This translates to your children feeling not just lonely, but unworthy of your time and love or worse, that they do not matter.

Our children are the most precious treasure we have. We must not only protect them, but teach them how to protect themselves, each other and the family. With this we can truly create the loving environment which creates healthy, happy and responsible children.


This article first appeared in the March 2016 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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