If you’re the parent of a school-age child, you probably celebrated the “new year” a few weeks ago, with high hopes and expectations and maybe some trepidation, too, especially if past years have been rough. You might have decided that this is will be the year for teaching the kids to take responsibility. With the slate freshly cleaned and motivation high, many parents were eager to set goals and establish routines, all for the purpose of building the track well so that our kids will stay on it.
How’s it going?
Recently I wrote an article for Washington Parent on how to teach children to take responsibility at home, at school and in the community. Here are some tips.
We lead by example. Household chores are a top area of contention among Washington area families. No longer are cooking, cleaning and laundry solely Mom’s turf. Parents need to demonstrate what it looks like to take one’s share of responsibility—not more, but not less, either. So, pick up after yourself and keep your bedroom tidy. You can’t expect your children to do what you say if you don’t hold yourself to the same standard.
The daily and weekly schedule. When children are at school and away from parental reminders of what needs to be done, they can begin to forget assignments and shirk responsibility. Kids (like adults) often procrastinate. A daily and weekly schedule that you develop with your child can help a lot to combat the tendency to put assignments off until the last minute or not complete them at all. The daily and weekly schedules are an outpost for reminders to put the homework in the backpack every evening and take the violin to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Community service develops character. We all want our children to grow up to be “good people”—responsible citizens who care for others. As we do at home, we also need to set the example in our community. Make sure your children know when you’re volunteering at the local food bank or animal shelter and what you’re doing. If the kids save part of their allowance to donate to a soup kitchen, take the cash and kids there to give the donation. The staff will be delighted, and probably will offer your children a tour.
I’ve also found movies to be wonderful sources of inspiration for kids to take responsibility—a good reason to gather around the TV and enjoy a family movie night. At the end of my Washington Parent article I list several classic and favorite movies. For example, in “The Lion King,” the young Simba learns from his father the responsibilities of being a king, but then gets lured into a plot by an evil uncle. In facing and overcoming the consequences of his mistake, Simba learns an enduring lesson of the meaning of responsibility.
What works for you, in getting your children to take responsibility? Please share your tips in the comments section below.
Lynne Ticknor, a journalist, educator and parent of four children, developed the curricula for PEP’s Parenting Preschoolers and More Tools for Parenting Preschoolers classes.
PEP’s workshop Whose Responsibility Is This? Getting Kids to Be Accountable for Their Schoolwork takes place Thursday, Nov. 6, 7:30-9:30 pm, at PEP. Find this workshop on our School Age Children page.