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Teaching Your Child Responsibility


Understanding responsibility is the basis of teamwork. It is important for our society. Social problems occur because people do not understand their duties and responsibilities. Parents should teach children responsibility from a young age so that they know their responsibilities to themselves, their family and society.

Why is it important to teach your child responsibility?

Many different problems occur because people do not understand their duties and responsibilities. It is very important to teach children responsibility, such as doing daily chores, cleaning up toys after play, and helping with housework. When they go to school, they will know their responsibilities as a student, such as paying attention, helping teachers and classmates, sharing, etc; it is an important part of their growth and development. Without training from a young age, it is difficult for children to learn this when they grow up.

Notes for parents

Without understanding their responsibilities inside and outside of the home, children may have difficulties with social interaction, particularly teamwork. As they grow up, they may find it difficult to interact with other people. Group work can become a one-man show as they will do all the work and think it’s a sacrifice, but it’s actually not. Working in groups is often presented as a good way to help people understand their own roles and responsibilities. If your child is always working alone they will lack necessary teamwork skills.  

Children can learn responsibility between ages one and three

Some parents may believe that their little ones are too young to take on responsibilities, but that is not necessarily the case:

  • One year of age: Children can begin to do daily routines at about a year old, such as lifting their arms for mother when she’s putting a shirt on or just helping with putting on a shirt, taking pants off and undoing buttons. Teach children to clean up toys after playing, as well.  Children are able to understand and follow simple instructions. They learn to understand people around them. They begin to establish a sense of self and should know basic responsibilities; the time to teach is now.
  • Two to three years of age: Children at this age begin to have social interactions and responsibilities, such as daily routines, including eating, brushing teeth, using the toilet, helping parents retrieve simple items, doing simple housework, etc. At this age children begin to develop friendships, so they should understand their roles and responsibilities, such as learning to share and taking turns at play. This is a form of social responsibility. Children in this age group have social responsibilities inside and outside of their homes.  

Things that can affect children’s understanding of responsibility  

  • Parents having fewer children. Parents who have fewer children can help their children with everything and the children are not forced to do things for themselves as quickly, like bathing and feeding. The result may be that the children feel that they do not have to do things themselves and are not as aware of their responsibilities to themselves and consequently, to others.
  • Children that stay home. Although parents assign some tasks to the children, they do not go out as much in order to interact socially and may have no friends outside the home. This might lead to poor social skills.

Specifics of Teaching Responsibility

Starting with the child themselves  

Responsibility is an action. Parents should start teaching children responsibility by letting them develop daily routines and by not doing everything for the children. Children should be encouraged to try to do things for themselves first.

Give clear and simple instructions

Parents should teach children to understand that they should help parents do some of the housework and explain that outside the home they have to wait their turn and share toys.

Train children in real-life situations

After teaching and giving instructions, parents should train their children in real-life situations. Give them simple tasks to do at home, such as passing eggs or vegetables during the cooking time, learning to set a dinner table, etc. Parents should notice how their children play with friends and teach them the correct way if they do not take turns and share toys. It will take time and patience. Do not forget to share words of encouragement with your children when they do well.

Don’t think that it’s too difficult

You may always think that it is just easier to do it yourself; however, over the long term, it is not. Some parents do not let children do anything because they don’t want a mess and others do not want their children to overdo things. However, it is really important that children should begin to take on responsibilities now as it is more difficult for them to learn as they get older. Children should be taught responsibility at home and as early as possible. When they can help people in their family, they are likely to also help people in society as well.

Don’t be afraid of children’s resistance

Resistance is common in children and rules are important for guiding children. Parents have to consistently enforce the rules by saying “if you don’t pick up your toys, I will throw them away” or “If you don’t eat it yourself, nobody will feed you”. Parents have to stick to the rules and let their children know they will not back down. Without this type of training and the necessary reinforcement, children are much less likely to learn the rules. Teaching children responsibility from a young age is important as they grow; it can form the basis for good teamwork.

Photo Credit: Nuiiko via Compfight cc

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