Raising Responsible Kids
Cheri Burcham, family life educator
How many times have you wondered “how can I get my grandchildren
to be more responsible for brushing their teeth, picking up toys,
or getting ready on time?” Teaching children to be responsible
is teaching them to be in control and making their own decisions.
It also means they need to be accountable for the choices they
make and face the consequences of their actions. It is often easier
for parents or grandparents to give in to children’s needs
or wants to avoid a battle or to help them out. Many adults believe
that childhood isn’t a time for work or don’t want
to be involved in the hassle of letting children “help” them.
chores can be a great way for children to develop responsibility.
Chores allow children to contribute to the family, share the workload,
learn new skills and even earn money.
As you strive to raise a responsible,
self-directed grandchild, think of a ladder. At the first rung
of the ladder, children will
act to avoid punishment and gain pleasure or rewards. Children
hit the next rung around 5 to 6 years of age when they show concern
and respect for the rules. This is when they start conforming to
rules or the way something is supposed to be. The last rung is “self-direction,” where
the child shows initiative and independent judgment.
It is important
to remember that learning a new chore takes years – not
days, weeks or even months for a child to move from completing
the task with help, to doing a task independently. For example,
according to a 1989 study of families in Washington state, 99 percent
of children involved could dress themselves with help beginning
at age 2 1/2, but still needed reminding or supervision around
age 5, and did not fully complete the task without reminding or
until 10 1/2 years of age (Crary, 1990).
So, how do you get children to help out with chores?
- Be clear and specific when giving instructions for
- Provide choices in assigning chores. Try a “job
- Avoid being a nag.
- Brainstorm ways to “help” children
remember to get jobs done.
- Make sure consistent consequences are
in place when a job doesn’t
- Make doing tasks fun!
- Rotate the “dirty jobs” that
no one wants.
- Try to avoid re-doing a job. Children may not complete
a task the way you would do it, but the important thing is that
- Consider safety when assigning and supervising tasks.
praise and express appreciation when children complete or attempt
tasks. Appreciation is a great motivator!
You can also help
your grandchildren become responsible by being a responsible role
model, helping them with problem-solving and
decision-making, and showing that work contributes to the family.
You should also expect good things from children, offer love, encouragement
and support, and have appropriate expectations for each child.
responsible and learning responsibility is a lifelong process.
You can provide the roadmap for your grandchildren to reach that
destination. Enjoy the trip – the destination is in sight!
In This Issue: Raising
Responsible Kids | Talking with Teens about
Death | Get Credit Card Debt Under Control | Recipe