4 Ways to Help Your Children Become Responsible Individuals

There comes a point in a child’s life when they have to start caring for themselves. It’s a scary thought for many parents, most of whom can all-too-easily look back on their children’s days of being helpless. Helping your child grow into responsibility is a process, one that you can aid through careful action. Below are four ways you can help your child transition into a responsible adulthood.

Do It Yourself

If you want your child to display certain behaviors, you might want to take a look in the mirror. You really can’t expect your child to do the things that you don’t do yourself. If, for example, you want your child to start being more proactive about picking up laundry, you probably shouldn’t leave it laying around your own room. Walking the walk is a huge part of modeling behavior for your child, so don’t ask them to do anything you won’t do yourself. This should have the added benefit of forcing you to live up to your own standards, which will further reinforce them for your children.

Make Trust Count

One of the major problems with asking a child to be more responsible comes when they actually accomplish the task. Responsibility for its own sake is great, but it’s not something the average child will appreciate. Instead of expecting them to completely internalize your lesson, make that responsibility count for something. Don’t give the child a physical reward, but start giving them more of your trust. Be willing to back off a little bit and trust that the responsibility that they have gained will help them to make better choices. If they mess up, they’ll be back to square one—a fairly important lesson in and of itself.

Get a Pet

One of the most common arguments between parents and children tends to be about pets. You’ve likely spent years telling your children that having a pet is just too big of responsibility, and now it’s time to see if that’s true. If you want your child to learn a bit more about personal responsibility, consider getting your child a pet. The toughest part will be forcing yourself not to take an active role in the care of the animal. Unless you see that the pet is in actual danger, you need to let your child deal with their animal.

If you’re afraid that this might be too much too fast, consider getting your child a fish instead of a dog or cat—the responsibility will be there, but with fewer destructive consequences. If you got a Lifetime aquarium or another type of aquarium, you could teach your child responsibility by assigning them to clean it out. Always gauge your child’s ability to care for an animal before making a purchase, as having to give away an animal due to your child’s lack of care teaches the wrong kind of lesson.

Make Them Give Input

Finally, make sure your child understand what you mean by responsibility by having honest conversations. Make your child give you input on what they think responsibility is, what the rewards should be, and what happens when they mess up. While these thoughts might not align with your own, they will give you an important look into how your child thinks. The more your child is engaged with this process, the more likely they will be to go along with your ideas. When communication is a two-way street, there’s a better chance of all parties involved learning something.

Responsibility isn’t something that comes naturally, so don’t expect a change overnight. Do give your child a chance to mature, but don’t panic when they make mistakes. Try to remember that gaining responsibility is supposed to be in their best interest, not a tool you should use for punishment.