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Smart Parenting 2017: Teaching Responsibility to Your Children

When parents are asked about the traits they would like their children to have, one of the most common answers is to be responsible. Being responsible have a lot of meanings and they are commonly associated with keeping one’s word, meeting one’s commitments, being dependable, acknowledging mistakes, doing something to one’s ability, being accountable for one’s behavior, and being an asset to one’s family, community, and society. Parents often associate obedience with responsibility. There are many parents wanting their children to do what they are asked to do, to follow their directions without questioning their authority. However these are not the behaviors of being responsible but rather the behaviors of being obedient.

Over time, many parents want their children to accept ownership for a chore or task, and their children do it because it needs to be done, and eventually they accept that it’s their obligation to do it. With practice and constant reminder, children develop a sense of ownership and they may even initiate performing a task over time with constant reminder and practice because it needs to be done and not because they are being told to do so, which is an attitude of responsibility. Parents need to give up their own timetable and how they want things to be done exactly as they want, and allow their child to move from obedience to responsibility at their own pace. Allowing a child to freely do on his own way with certain degree of limitation will encourage a feeling of pride and accomplishment, fostering a sense of responsibility. The issue about the extent of involvement you need to do when helping your children in meeting their commitments and completing their tasks is raised when considering the transition from obedience to responsibility.

There are many parents who do not want their children to suffer or fail, so they do so much for their children, and when this happens, they don’t learn to take responsibility by themselves. But there are also some situations wherein our children need our support and guidance for them to learn how to be responsible. It is important to find the balance between under-parenting and over-managing by knowing and deciding the most appropriate time to step in, and when it is more effective to let your children go so they can develop maturity and responsible behaviors. Joining extracurriculars, keeping a pet such as a butterfly koi, and giving them tasks are just some activities your children can do to develop their sense of responsibility. The best role model when it comes to being responsible for your child is you, so it is important to internalize and assess your own actions and check if you are setting a good example or not.