Children at very early age need to be taught responsibility. I am not talking about paying the bills responsibility at age 3. I am talking about age appropriate responsibility. Without teaching them this key quality they will grow up to feel entitled, spoiled and not be able to take care of themselves. Not to say that everyone will be that way, I just know it will be a rough ride for them until they do learn.
This is something that my husband and I talked about how we would raise our children. We wanted our children to understand that they have responsibility within the family and in life. We wanted the consequences to mostly be natural consequences, so they can learn to monitor themselves at a very early age. We wanted them to understand that the house doesn’t clean itself and our items don’t pick up by themselves. That what we have is a lot and to be grateful for what God has given us.
Let’s start with natural consequences. For us those are the best because it naturally happens as a result of what the child did. Not something that is enforced by another person. For example, a child falls down the steps because they have something over their eyes. I can tell you first hand that they learn not to have something their eyes while walking down the steps. It helps them understand what they should do and what they shouldn’t do. Normally it only takes one time to learn. Now for things like falling off a bike, we try to teach them to get up and try again and not to be scared that practice helps.
We started at a very early age teaching our children responsibility. It started with helping to pick up toys. Learning to put their toys away helps them understand that there is a specific place “home” as we call it for each toy. To make it easier we purchased bins to go into cubicles, so that they can just throw it in there. We also have an awesome toy box that my grandfather made for me and my siblings when we were young. It is great to just throw in bigger toys to put them away. (Look soon for a post on great ways to make cleaning up fun) We then moved to their dish when they are done using it. They put it in the sink. I remember when our daughter couldn’t even reach the sink to put it in, even then we still had her take it over there and we would pick her up to put it in the sink. The next step was to put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket. Understanding where the dirty clothes helps us out as we are not picking up after them.
Now that my children are a little older, 4 and 3, they have more responsibility. They are responsible for cleaning up toys, help set the table, help clean off the table, make their bed (to the best of their ability and I do not correct it.), put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket, wiping off the table after meal, help bring in groceries and put them away, taking out the recycling and so much more. These are small tasks that take a couple of minutes each, but teaches them that they are an active member of this house and will help maintain it.
Things that we are working on is putting dishes away (mostly their dishes on the counter), help with loading the dishes (mostly utensils), feeding the dogs, walking the dogs, help with yard work (mostly picking up sticks), sweeping, putting their shoes and coats away when coming in the house, help put the clothes in the dryer and take clothes out. I do not expect them to be perfect and we try not to correct it after the fact, unless we have to. By not correct it we let them be proud of what they accomplished and help guide them to do it the way we need it to be. Correcting it can make them feel like what they did is not good enough. Overtime they will learn to do it the way the household does it.
So what do my children learn during this is that they are responsible for themselves and their stuff. When they ask why they need to do it, we explain to them that they are apart of the family and they live in this house, so they need to help keep it up.
How do you teach responsibility? Do you have any tips?