Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How to Teach Your Child Responsibility

Monika Pis, PhD, CPNP

Accepting and taking responsibility is required for healthy growth of young people, but becoming responsible takes time. A parent’s job is to teach their child values, and give realistic responsibilities. At about 5 or 6 years old, you can start to teach your child responsibility.

Break down the process into steps, and build on each step as the child masters it. For example, after you have taught your child how to clean his room, you might negotiate with him to do this chore once a week. Choose a particular day for him, and have everyone in the family participate in cleaning their own rooms as well. This provides a chance for you to set a good example, making the child want to mimic good behavior. When your child is comfortable with this task, give him the responsibility of cleaning his room weekly without setting a specific time or day—this way he learns to be responsible for his room on his own.

Always teach your child responsibility in small steps. You can use a list to keep track of his responsibilities. Praise him for responsible behaviors. A little positive reinforcement goes a long way!

 Let your child do it!

 Give him/her an opportunity to accomplish the task, allow sufficient time, and treat it as a learning opportunity, not an absolute necessity.

 Allow sufficient time. It is very easy to get frustrated and discouraged by lack of adequate progress when we are in a hurry. If your child does not have an adequate amount of time to perform a task, he/she might become uncooperative in response to unrealistic expectations.

 Do not be afraid to use consequences. 

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