How many times has your child begged for a special gift only to later break or lose it from carelessness? How many times a day do you have to remind your kids to do something you asked them to do or even complete regular chores? How many times have your kids promised to do something and then didn’t keep their promise?
Responsibility is a tough Christian life skill to teach your kids. It’s one of those where you often feel you have taken one step forward and three steps back. Just when your kids seem to have mastered one area of responsibility, you realize they aren’t being very responsible in another area of their lives.
You want your kids to be more responsible, but how do you teach them in such a way that they actually become responsible consistently across every part of their lives? There are probably a lot of things you can do, but these seven tips will give you a great start.
- Explain God wants us to be responsible. Help your child understand this means we keep our promises, take care of things without being asked or reminded and take the credit or blame for the results of our words and actions.
- Start by giving young children small responsibilities and gradually make them larger and more difficult as your child gets older. Even the youngest of children can handle some responsibility. Helping put away their toys, for example at a young age will consist of bringing you each toy you ask for and putting it in the toy bin. By their late teens, your kids should be responsible enough to handle almost any adult chore – including having a “real” job. They will still need your guidance from time to time, but if you have worked with them consistently, they should be able to handle most things easily.
- When giving your child a new responsibility, explain each step of completing that responsibility and demonstrate or teach each step if necessary. This is one of the biggest mistakes adults make. Just because your child has watched you make a bed ten thousand times, it doesn’t mean he has paid enough attention to know every step of the process. You need to break it down into smaller steps and teach each step. You may even want to create a checklist until they become at ease with the entire process. (Some kids will need/use a checklist even into adulthood.)
- Be realistic about your child’s early attempts at a new responsibility. It may take some time to master it. Encourage your child during the learning process.
- Have a set structure and routine to your child’s day whenever possible. This will help your child remember to complete their responsibilities with less reminders. Make a visual schedule for your child if he/she struggles with remembering tasks.
- After a responsibility has been mastered, set and give consequences for failure to complete it well and in the time required. The more closely the consequence fits the responsibility the better. For example, if your child forgot to feed the dog, not only must he feed her, but also walk her for his sister.
- Remember to hold your child responsible for his/her actions or words and not just for competing certain tasks. Responsibility isn’t just about schoolwork, chores and jobs. It is also admitting your mistakes, taking responsibility for them and not trying to make excuses or blame others. Forgetting to teach this area of responsibility can cause huge problems for your kids.
Remember, teaching responsibility takes time and effort on your part. It is a process, so be thankful for any growth in this area. If you are tempted to skip this training because of how much work it requires, remind yourself that repentance is actually accepting responsibility for your sins. If nothing is ever your fault (irresponsible), there is no need to repent. By not raising a responsible child, you are laying the groundwork for his future rejection of God. It really is a crucial building block in your child’s faith foundation.
P.S. Here is the link to the free printable parenting resource for raising responsible kids, which you can print and keep.