Responsibility…it’s not just for adults
Whether you’ve always been a rule-follower, or like to live on the wild side, being a responsible person is something of value. In order to teach our kids what’s right, we need to be their first and best role model.
Being a responsible person means that people can rely on you to get the job done; it means that you can handle the task and take appropriate steps to get things accomplished. Young children have the opportunity to take responsibility throughout the day. Did you know that many daily routines require a child to be responsible? It’s true! Some toddlers love vacuum cleaners, while others love pots and pans. Why not make the most out of it and teach a lesson in cleaning up?
Kids learn to make good decisions and exercise good judgment by having lots of practice, including the experience of making bad decisions. Adults can help identify a few specific things at a time to focus on until the children become competent at those tasks and are ready for new challenges. Here are a few easy tips to start with:
- Let them try and fail. Your kids will never learn how to do something well if you do not give them many chances to learn how. Let them learn how to do it just like you did – the wrong way, their way and then the right way.
- Let them clean up their own mess. While it may be easier in the short term to just clean up after your toddler, it’s very important that kids develop the sense of responsibility that comes from knowing they can sort out their own messes.
- Be responsible together. Everyone in the family can help to set the table. You can set the dishes, glasses and breakable items, while your child places a napkin next to each plate. Older preschoolers can learn how to place knives, forks and spoons.
- Break responsibilities into small, easy-to-do tasks that are age appropriate for young children. For example, keep a laundry basket or bucket handy for your child to place his or her toys in when picking them up off the floor.