Children aren’t born with responsibility traits. They learn them! What I find interesting is that they seem to crave this habit. Children like to be helpful and want to know that they are useful. Generally, the trick to raising responsible children is to give them responsibilities and hold them accountable to completing them. Does your child have daily chores? Is it required that he/she pick up after playing? Being dependable, honoring commitments, keeping promises, accepting our strengths and struggles, and accepting natural and logical consequences – these are the habits that make responsible children. When we use our abilities to respond to the challenges in life, we take control with confidence. I think that when we tell our children to be the best version of themselves, we encourage response-ability. Providing opportunities that help children prove to themselves that they have the ability to respond to the challenges and opportunities that life avails can become a highlight of their day.
Here are 5 Tips from a mother of eight children:
- Model it – do your best to be on time, clean up after yourself, do what you say and say what you do.
- Assign it gradually – scaffold age appropriate chores and activities within your family.
- Let them observe what happens if someone isn’t responsible – strategically stop doing something that they expect you to do just so that they can experience how responsible adults usually are. 🙂
- Play the scenario game – write 10-20 typical scenarios regarding opportunities to be responsible.
- No bail-outs – let your child face the natural and logical consequences of irresponsible behavior.
How we can practice Responsibility the AACA way:
- Heart – approach a friend who may be struggling.
- Mind – work hard to complete assignments with accuracy.
- Body – tiddy the space you trace.
- Soul – think twice to speak nice.
- “If you mess up, ‘fess up.” – Author Unknown
- “Never point a finger where you never lent a hand.” – Robert Brault
- “Quit making excuses. Putting it off. Complaining about it. Dreaming about it. Whining about it. Crying about it. Believing you can’t. Worrying if you can. Waiting until you are older. Make a plan & just do it.” – Nike
Model it, expect it, and enforce it! Have you had the pleasure of watching your child respectfully greet a guest with a smile, handshake, and good eye contact? It is one of the most wonderful things to see. It expresses confidence, dignity, and humility. It’s the simplest gesture known to civilization, yet one of the most profound. When we greet someone with respect it says, “I respect you, and want you to respect me”. Simple acts such as this are taught. It isn’t accidental. Respect is a learned behavior just like disrespect is. If our children are acting disrespectful you can bet that they are observing the same behavior from someone they look up to. Our children will rise or fall to whatever level they see the adults in their lives behave. Ouch, it reminds me of the country song Watching You, by Rodney Atkins when the little boy uses a four letter word that started with “s” and the dad asks where he learned to talk like that. He said, “I’ve been watching you, now ain’t that cool. I’m your buckaroo. I want to be like you ..”. So if you ever hear Hannah speak disrespectful, let me know and I will have a talk with Susie 🙂
In her book, The Family Coach Method, Dr. Lynne Kenney lists seven simple things we can do as adults to foster the habit of respect in our children. They include:
- Be a good listener – Give your child your undivided attention when they are speaking to you.
- Be fair – Consider your child’s viewpoint and experience before starting your opinion.
- Be honest – Tell the truth. Be accountable when you make a mistake.
- Be polite – Use the manners that you expect of your children.
- Be positive – Focus on the positive side of life. Your child deserves a role model that “lifts them up.” Compliment your children; observe what they do well and celebrate it.
- Be reliable – Keep your promises. Show your child that you mean what you say. Do as you say and say as you do. Children see the truth through a clearer lens than do adults.
- Be trustworthy – Keep your children’s heart-felt feelings and experiences private, show them that you can be a trusted adult who cares about their feelings and their self-esteem.
Showing your children that you respect them through your words and actions encourages your children to respect themselves, you, and others.
Here are some AACA ways to help your child practice respect:
- Heart – Expect your child to respectfully greet guests.
- Mind – Provide “think time” when your child is struggling with a task.
- Body – Encourage one more minute of exercise.
- Soul – Ask your child to share three things they like about themself.
Quotes about Respect
“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” -James Baldwin
“Show respect even to people who don’t deserve it; not as a reflection of their own character, but as a reflection of yours.”- Dave Willis