How to Teach Kids Responsibility

When your child does something wrong, you may notice that he or she will seem to want to place the blame on others. You may hear a lot of, “so and so made me do it,” or “those aren’t my handprints on the wall.” Young kids need to understand that making mistakes is a normal part of life and they don’t need to blame anyone. Accepting responsibility for actions is part of growing up into healthy adults. So knowing how to teach kids responsibility is very important for parents. Next, use the following tips which can help your child learn to be responsible for his or her own actions.

How to Teach Kids Responsibility

Understand as a parent it will take a lot of time and effort on your part to teach your kids responsibility. It doesn’t happen overnight. You will need to reinforce and talk to your child about responsibility over time as they grow up and use each life experience as an example.

1. Explain Clearly the Good and Bad Consequences

When something happens in life, use it as an example. Reinforce positives like, “because you worked hard at studying you got a good grade on your test,” or you can use “because you ran through the water, now you’re all wet.”

Tips: Have your child think about situations and tell you what might happen if they do something. For instance, if they forget to set their alarm for school, and ask them what will happen? You can also use yourself as an example, ask them “if mom forgets to set her alarm for work what happens?” Let them tell you. This way they learn to talk about cause and effect of certain situations.

2. Do Not Bend the Rules

This is the basic in answering how to teach kids responsibility. Sometimes it may be easier as a parent to stand your ground, but if you don’t enforce consequences now it will be harder later to enforce things. Plus your child will not take you seriously next time something happens. Hold them accountable for their actions and be consistent with your rules.

3. Display Their Progress and Achievements

Kids do better with visual aids. Use a chart on the door or refrigerator to help them see how well they are doing, or when they make mistakes. Every time they do something good, reward them on their chart with points. If they do something wrong and blame someone or something else, take points away from them. Allow your child to save up points for a reward at the end of the week. Losing points means they need to do better to get a better reward.

4. Make Him Understand Because He/ She Is a Big Kid

Reinforce responsibility by allowing your child to grow up and help out around the house. Assign chores and if they ask why tell them, “You’re bigger now and I trust that you can be helpful.” 

5. Give Your Child Opportunities to Be Responsible

Give your child a list of chores around the house. This gives them the opportunity to have his or her own duties they can figure out how to complete. This gives them both a sense of responsibility and helps with increasing self-esteem. Explain the chores and what you would like done, give them a time to do the chores in and a consequence for not completing the chores. Then let them complete the task and give feedback after.

6. Do Not Jump to Help

Try not to “pick up the pieces” when your kids feel the consequences of a bad decision. If your child refuses to eat what you have made for dinner and wants something else, tell them that is all there is to eat. If they don’t eat, put the plate in the refrigerator. Then when they call out to you from the bedroom at 11 p.m. at night that they are hungry, tell them they can eat their dinner you left in the fridge. One or two nights of going to bed hungry and they will realize it is better to eat what mom made.

7. Let Your Kids Help

How to teach kids responsibility? Let them know that they can help a lot! When your housework is getting you down, don’t show those emotions to your kids. Instead, give your kids a smile and ask them to help you. Teaching them that teamwork makes responsibility fun will help them learn it faster. You’re also showing your kids how to take care of themselves one day and take ownership of their own lives.

8. Be a Role Model

The best way to get your kids to take responsibility is to be responsible yourself, in front of your kids. Show them things like putting your things away when you get home, cleaning up after yourself and admitting when you have made a mistake.

9. Assign Tasks Appropriate for His Age

Give your child “age appropriate” tasks that they can handle. Have your 6 year old make her own bed, rinse dishes for you and run the vacuum. Talk to your teens about what they need for school, help them plan homework or have them keep a calendar with their schedules.

10. Let Him Understand the Concept of Priority

Your child may want to play all day and night, but they need to understand responsibilities come first in life. If your child asks, “Cant I play with my friends,” you need to let them know that they need to clean up their mess first. Be nice when you tell them, but be firm. You can reassure your child that you would like to watch TV but you need to wash your dishes first just to let them know you take care of your priorities first too.

11. Try Not to Criticize

Be patient when your child forgets to do the right thing. Over lecturing and punishing too much won’t work. Try being humorous and matter-of-fact about things when something doesn’t go right. You can even add a bit of silliness to things and make learning responsibility fun. If your child leaves something out, ask in a funny way “do we put our socks on our hands,” or “can we stuff our socks in this jar?” Then ask them where they really put their socks after they take them off and allow them to answer, but keep things light.

12. Encourage in Positive Language

Turn everything into a positive with kids. Instead of telling them what they won’t get or what won’t happen, turn it around. Tell them if they do something right, then something good will happen. If your child asks you for something, tell them if they finish their chores they can have it.

Precaution: Be careful not to use this technique as a bribe. For instance, telling them if they do chores you will take them for ice cream. Offering too many rewards make them un-important in the long run.

13. Give Them Needed Tools for Responsibility

Make it easier to be responsible by giving your children what they need for self-discipline in life. If you expect them to wake up on time, make sure they have a good working alarm clock. If you want their homework desk organized, make sure they have desk organizers and filing accessories. Keep their homework organized with binders, stacking trays and folders. A planner can also help them write in due dates for tasks around the house and in school.

One important note is that once you buy the materials, let your child figure out how to use them to their own advantage. Just give them the tools and let them organize themselves. With time management, you may want to also consider buying them a watch. Give them specific times to be home and a watch is a tool so they will make it home on time.

Watch the following video to learn more about how to teach kids responsibility from a parenting expert:

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