“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.” – Anne Frank
Wouldn’t it be a dream world if all little ones turn out to be the most responsible of human beings? Even though we love the “odd ones out” that create some entertainment for us, we mostly hope that our children will be responsible and learn to take responsibility throughout their lives. As Anne Frank’s quote mentions; there is only so much that we can do – but let’s make sure we do those things right!
Create a Sense of Purpose
In essence, being responsible refers to being able to respond in a socially acceptable manner in various situations. In this world, we all want to feel like we belong and that we matter. By explaining to our children that they have purpose, we help them to understand that the actions they take will influence themselves, others and the world as a whole. Once they understand ‘why’ their actions matter, they might be more interested in choosing their actions wisely.
Lead by Example
This is especially important in the early stages of development. Whether we realise it or not, our children follow by example. As parents, we should have better awareness of how we react to certain responsibilities in our lives – these actions will then be accepted by our children as the norm.
Focus on Age-Appropriate Tasks
In order for a child to end up being a responsible adult, they need to develop their self-reliance skills from a young age. By giving our children tasks and chores we will help them to practice their skills of becoming dependable and help them plan their schedule according to these tasks. Planning ahead and understanding what their responsibilities are, will help them accept these changes in the future. It will teach them to adjust their schedules and incorporate tasks that are expected of them.
It’s Your Response That Matters
“Most parents mistakenly believe they must control their child’s behaviour to make them behave. But I believe an effective parent systemically provides appropriate consequences to their child’s behaviour”. – Larry Waldman, PhD, ABPP
Apart from the activities, chores, and tasks that a parent can give their children – it’s more about the parent’s response to their actions than the action itself. Children are quick to learn how we will react towards certain situations, and if they learn the power to manipulate these emotions we will have a tough time to re-establish control. By implementing systematic consequences to their undesired actions, children will learn the value of doing the right thing. Consequences do not need to be negative, positive encouragement and praise are often just as effective.
As the parent, we should therefore strive to display consistent behaviour that shows our children how to take responsibility for one’s actions. We all have a bad day every now and then. Even when we lose our tempers, as soon as we realise it, we can opt to take ownership and responsibility for our actions. Explaining our emotions, actions and rectification to our children helps them understand why we do and feel the things we do. We don’t always do the right thing, but by understanding and admitting why we do things, our children will learn to identify good and bad behaviour and learn how to fix it, because they watch us do it. Now that’s a valuable lesson to learn.