Teaching Responsibility at Home

By Jennifer Taylor

Every parent wants their child to be responsible and respectful to others.  We smile with delight when they use their manners in public and cringe in horror when they are outright rude.  We take their behavior as a personal reflection on our abilities as mothers and fathers.  However, raising a responsible child is no easy task.  It isn’t something they learn in school or from their peers.  It is something that they learn at home.

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Interactions at home often mirror the types of interactions a child will exhibit around others.  If a child is allowed to speak disrespectfully to his siblings or parents then this will most likely carry over into other areas of life.  It is important for children to learn that how they behave affects others, and also that they will not get away with negative behavior.

One key way to teach children how to communicate is to be an example that kids can emulate.  We often don’t like to hear this.  As a mother, I know it is hard to always use my manners and not to speak harshly toward others.  Life happens, and we are only human.  I believe it is about trying to provide a good model, and I think that also includes how we behave after we have spoken harshly.

Children don’t need perfect parents.  They need parents that can teach them, and we do that best through our own personal experiences and how we react to them.  If I have been rude to someone I think my child can learn a valuable lesson in seeing me sincerely apologize to the individual.  Moments like these can be teaching moments.   You can explain to your child how you should have behaved.

As they learn respect, children ought to be learning responsibility as well.   Many parents struggle with how to instill in their children a sense of responsibility.  There are many tactics that can be used; however, again I believe a key component in all this is modeling the behavior you want to see in your child.  Showing them that you complete tasks when you say you will and that you clean up after yourself goes a long way in being able to at least form a dialogue with your child.  Explaining that each member of the household has certain responsibilities is important, but you are also able to point to specific examples as well.

The struggle I face, and I know other parents face as well, is how to teach my child responsibility without taking away the joy and freedom of childhood.  There is a balance here that must be achieved.  I do not want to weigh him down with too many responsibilities, but at the same time a healthy amount will build character that will serve him well in the future.  Teaching him that his room is his responsibility will not only benefit him, but it will also benefit anyone who ever lives with him whether it is a roommate in college or his wife years later.

The key point to remember is that as parents we are not meant to be perfect.  Yes, we should do our best to display a good example that our children can look to.  However, we should not despair when we make a mistake.  Those moments when mistakes happen can be just as valuable to building up our children if we use them correctly.  Building character through responsibility and respect isn’t just something that children must continually work on.  Even as adults we work on these areas as well.

Jennifer Taylor is a freelance writer living and working in South Carolina. Happily married, she and her husband have one son. Jennifer believes that each child is a unique individual, and that parents should be able to decide on how to raise their children. She seeks to empower parents to seek out answers and find solutions. You can contact Jennifer at admin@jentaylor.org.

 

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One Response to “Teaching Responsibility at Home”

Bobm says:

Great point! None of us are perfect–there are teachable moments all around us. We can teach our children great lessons in the way that we acknowledge our mistakes.

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