How-To raise a responsible child

raise a responsible child
Child study at home . Girl sitting on a table. Kid in a class.

Raise a responsible child: One of the common things I hear lot of parents tell is that their kids have no focus and are not responsible.

Is responsibility something that they are born with or something that needs to be nurtured.

Responsibility is not a talent. It is to be built and nurtured and that is parents’ responsibility to do so.

Here we will understand many aspects of responsibility for you to get a full grip on the subject and be able to make your strategy to help your child be responsible.

Topics covered in this Blog

Responsibility and Accountability and their difference

raise a responsible child - Quote

Accountability and responsibility are usually used interchangeably. But they are not one and the same. They do have some similarities and few characteristics overlap but they are distinctively different.

Responsibility is task oriented. Which means that the child has to finish the task that they have taken upon themselves to finish.

They can share their responsibility with their siblings or even parents and seek their help to get the work done. Accountability to get the work done lies with them. 

For example, if the kid is entrusted with the responsibility to throw away the trash every day. They can take the help of their brother or sister to pitch in for them to complete the task. 

However, the accountability of completing the task lies with them. And if the task is not done it will be named on the kid rather than the sibling who’s helped that they asked for. 

So, in a way we can say that accountability happens after the situation has occurred. In the case above accountability of not throwing the trash away for the day lies on the kid that you have entrusted the responsibility on. 

Accountability is not only a commitment to successfully complete the task that is given to you. But it is also the responsibility to own up to any success or failure that comes out of compilation of the given task.

So, we can summarise by saying that accountability is task focused. While responsibility is result focused. 

So, as parents when you hold children accountable for their behaviour you are indirectly fostering responsibility in them and thereby help raise a responsible child. 

15 reasons why you should raise a responsible child

  1. They will have better self-awareness and self-esteem. This will make them wise in picking tasks to complete.
  2. They will be willing to stick to the task and complete it.
  3. Responsible kids will learn to look into their mistakes and learn from it. 
  4. They will do their best and solve the problems that they encounter. And in the process, they will develop perseverance. 
  5. They are more honest because they have the courage to own up to their mistakes and not play the blame game.
  6. Responsible kids make good friends and comrades as they will be more dependable and produce wise counsel to their loved ones.
  7. They have better coping skills that will come handy during emergency situations. 
  8. They have better habits and seek to take care of their health and wellbeing.
  9. A responsible kid is more prepared to face responsibilities of job or business and set to have a fruitful career.
  10. They are self-assured so cannot be easily broken down or stressed out by criticism or naysaying.
  11. They are independent. And depend on their ability and strive to get through the situation successfully.
  12. A responsible person is considerate and compassionate and they contribute positively to the society and the environment.
  13. They make the best use of their natural abilities and talent. It is said that they even have a comparatively happy and fulfilling life.
  14. They have better self-control and are more stable and wiser with their words and actions.
  15. A responsible kid is more hardworking and motivated than an irresponsible kid. 

Traits of a responsible person

raise a responsible child
  • They take care of their own well-being. Responsible person will show the same responsibility towards the wellbeing of their own self. which can lead them to live a healthy life.
  • They have healthy self-esteem. They display healthy self-esteem and please take rest in their ability to make things happen.
  • A responsible person will take accountability for their actions. The success or failure of their actions will be owned up by them. when they freeze success, they would also not shy away from receiving the appreciation and acknowledgement for the success.
  • They can confess to their mistakes and rectify it. Will intrinsically try to be honest. They take the courage to confess their mistakes and also learn from it and quickly try and rectify the mistake that they have done. 
  • Whatever is the task they take up they work hard in the task. I will never be lazy or sluggard. They give in their best effort and work hard to the best of their ability to deliver the task that they have taken up. 
  • They are very dependable human beings. Someone who does not run away from troubling situations. One can count on them being there to help you during trying times and give the support that they are able to render at this point of time.
  • They are conscious of their abilities and apply them to the fullest. They are confident and since they possess healthy self-esteem their reliance on their self and their abilities are high. So, they choose the task they need to do as per this ability they possess. This leads them to also complete the task comfortably and successfully. 
  • Will always strive to take care of their belongings and family. When one has the trait of responsibility you can see them display this trait not only on their own wellbeing but that which belongs to them and their family. 
  • They show compassion and empathy for people around them. Reach out and help when they can. They empathies with other people’s misery and render the needed support to them. 
  • This trait also extends further to make them conscious of their responsibility towards the environment, community and society

These are the common traits of a responsible person. So as parents we can take each of these traits and engage with our children through activities or stories or lead by example so that children develop these traits while they are growing up. 

Responsibility is one of the key factors that determines success of the individual and it also contributes to the happiness of the individual. So, all the more incentive for us to ensure that our children slowly learn and build upon these traits and we raise a responsible child. 

Age appropriate responsibilities

child studying on her own

Toddlers (2-3 yrs.)

This is an age where you can start by getting your toddler to take responsibility for their own self. their day-to-day activities and their own body 

Things your toddler can be responsible for

  1. You can give them responsibility for their own personal hygiene. (things like brushing teeth, scrubbing their body, use of washroom and clean themselves afterwards).
  2. Getting ready (putting on clothes and shoes, picking the right cloths to wear, putting soiled clothes to laundry. etc)
  3. Take care of their belongings (their toys, shoes, books etc)
  4. Keep their toddler area neat and clean (Picking up toys, keeping book in shelf, cleaning the mess they made, etc)
  5. Feed themselves (Serve food to their plate, pour a glass of water and drink, bring their plate and spoon and feed themselves etc.)

Pre-Schooler (3-6 yrs.)

This is an age where you can build up on the responsibilities given to your toddler and add few more to your pre-schooler’s list of responsibilities. The new addition at the stage is social interactions.

Things your pre-schooler can be responsible for

  1. Choose to participate in the social events they are invited to (be it playschool friends’ birthday to event you are invited to)
  2. Clean and tidy their room. Your kid can neat and tidy their room by keeping things where they belong. Clothes in the drawer to toys in the basket. 
  3. Choosing their friends in playschool or who they like to play in the playground. 
  4. Maintain cleanliness of their clothes and shoes. Choose the appropriate clothes as per the weather. 
  5. Help you plan a diet for them. What they like and wish to eat and differentiate between junk and healthy food.

School going kids (6-10 yrs.)

This is an age where you can build up on the responsibilities given to your pe-schooler and add a few more to your Schooler’s list of responsibilities. The new addition at the stage is school related activities and work.

Things your school going kid can be responsible for

  1. Things your School going kids can be responsible for
  2. Simple chores around the house (taking out the trash, Setting the table, cleaning their room etc.)
  3. Getting ready for school. (dressing up, braiding hair and getting their hair ready)
  4. Choosing their extra-curricular activities and learning from it
  5. Planning and prioritising homework and studies

Tween and Teen kids (10 yrs. & Above)

This is an age where you can build up on the responsibilities given to your schooler and add a few more to your tween and teen’s list of responsibilities. The new addition at the stage is Allowance and independence related activities and work.

Things your tween and Teen kid can be responsible for

  1. Money management. (grocery shopping, bill payments, Managing allowances etc)
  2. Can do independent activities such as riding the bus, staying at home, going out with friends etc.
  3. Helping with complex chores around the house independently (pet grooming, cooking, laundry, gardening etc)
  4. Take care of complete self-grooming (clothes to accessories)
  5. Initiate and participate in community activities. Also, older children can take up part time jobs.

15 Ways to build responsibility in a child

kid planting and watering the tree

1. Start young: 

Your quest to raise a responsible child must start early. Make a conscious effort to start teaching children responsibility at a very young age. Simple things such as taking care of one’s own body can be taught when the kid is just a toddler. And don’t give up your teachings of responsibility even as your kid grows and becomes an adult. 

2. Build their self-esteem:

Self-esteem and responsibility go hand in hand. You will have to focus on building the self-esteem of your kid if you find it lacking, I will not go deeper into this topic. You can get more insights from the article How-To help build self-esteem in your teenager

3. Have a healthy expectation from your kid:

If you are a parent who has no expectation from your child. And you keep emphasising that all you need is that they are just happy and get on with life happily. Then your kid is more prone to not take up responsibility for anything. 

After all they have nobody’s expectation to live up to or satisfy. So why would they have to struggle and take responsibility to finish any task at hand. Don’t have high expectations which can frustrate your child but always have healthy expectations from your kid and inform them clearly so that all of you are clear on your expectations. 

raise a responsible child

4. Provide structure and routine:

Responsibility is not something that your child will get overnight. So have clear expectations with your child and make a list of activities that you expect them to complete. 

If need be you can also help and prioritise their time to effectively manage these responsibilities. This way you are giving them a structure, a routine and clarity for them to go ahead and complete the task at hand. 

And slowly but steadily responsibility will start building up in your kid for the assigned task and you will be well into the journey to raise a responsible child. 

5. Teach them the needed life skills

Teach your child age appropriate life skills. In that once you teach them the skills you can slowly transfer the responsibility on to them to fulfil their own needs as per their age.

If you are wondering what the age appropriate life skills would be you can get more insights from our article TEACH YOUR CHILD LIFE SKILLS: A How-To Guide.

6. Setting limits and boundaries:

When you set limits and boundaries it will help your kid plan to execute the task within the boundary given and limitations set. 

Example if you have entrusted your kid with the responsibility to take care of grocery shopping for the house. And they can keep the money that they save post their purchases as their incentive. You need to set boundaries that they need to be honest and teach them that they should not indulge in any sort of theft or stealing in order to save more money.

7. Imposing discipline:

You cannot teach responsibility if you do not impose discipline on your children. one of the keys to success and being responsible is the discipline to follow it through till the end. discipline is not punishment but it is a positive thing and children do like some structure and discipline in their environment. You can read more about discipline and about consequences and how to structure punishments, article and How-to stop teen from breaking rules. 

8. Teach them courage:

Teaching responsibility means having courage to defend what they believe in. To be assertive and put forth their point of view. Teacher children to be fearless and have courage to stand for what is correct and what they believe in. Even if it means it is not the popular opinion. In that way you will build a sense of responsibility towards the thing that they so passionately believe in. 

9. Give opportunity to contribute to something good

Children learn a lot when they do things for others or things which are not directly beneficial to them. And when you give your child the opportunity to contribute to do something good for people for a cause you are nurturing their ability to be socially sensitive and compassionate and empathy for their loved ones and society at large. 

This will help them build hope and give them a sense of responsibility towards things beyond themselves. You might be interested in reading our article How-To Build HOPE in your Teenager

10. Invite your child to think (not just give orders)

child doing art work

Responsibility comes when your child is involved and invested in the activity that they are doing. You can get them to get involved in their activity by not giving them instruction or direction that they have to blindly follow. But by making them think and do things their own way.

For example: you can tell your child who is getting ready to go to school to first put their uniform, then their shoes, then their school bag. This way your child decides to follow you or rebel against you. 

Instead if you involve them by asking, “good you have put your uniform what should you do next?”. This way your child gets motivated to run and pick his shoes up and wear them. 

11. Make creative use of allowance

This is one of the effective ways I have found which builds responsibility very quickly in children. Allowances are used as a form of incentive not reward. 

One such incentive is that I have set a fixed amount for electricity usage. If the bill comes less than this fixed amount the difference becomes an incentive to my daughter. 

While this can look like a very simple incentive system. Throughout the month she is very conscious about saving electricity. Accountability to save electricity has become so deeply imbibed in her that no matter where she goes, she ensures that she conserves electricity.

12. Give them age appropriate responsibilities

This is very important because when you give them the responsibility beyond their age. It only leads to frustration and stress in your children and you see the little one being very unhappy.

It might even work against you because your children will learn to keep away from responsibility as they perceive it to be very difficult to follow and satisfy your expectations. 

13. Passing down your values and beliefs

When you pass across your stories, or your examples. the values that you believe in. All these things add up to giving your child a sense of duty and responsibility. One of the effective ways of passing down your values and value system is by stories. read more about storytelling from our article Storytelling to kids – Popular Trend these day.

14. Give your kid guidance by showing them how it is done

After you have clearly defined the responsibility that your child must carry. It is also your duty to ensure that your child has all the needed amenities and provisions to carry about their responsibility. 

That also includes giving them guidance or showing them how it is done. You can also keep checking on your child if they are facing difficulty and work with them to overcome the challenge so that they are better equipped to successfully complete the task at hand and become more responsible at it. 

15. Be a good role model and model responsibility and accountability.

Nothing beats building responsibility in your kid than being a good role model and displaying accountability. This way your child observes your first hand and learns the way that they need to follow as they grow up.

It also gives you an upper hand when you teach your child to be responsible since you have already modelled the behavior. Read more about other things that your children learn by observing you from our article 20 Important Things Children Learn by Observing You.

Bonus TIP: One of the methods that has helped me to raise a responsible child. 

Indulge them in purpose seeking activities:

When your kid is small, give them opportunities to explore the talents that they possess. In that way they start learning to know the skills and abilities that they have. 

And as they grow bigger you can give them more exposure by way of purpose seeking activities so that they have more clarity and meaning to what they are doing and why they are doing it. 

Once they have all these answers, they naturally tend to become more responsible and produce higher quality output. know more about purpose seeking activities and about life purpose from the article purpose.

10 things you should never do while nurturing responsibility

While now you understand why responsibility and accountability is important. And what you need to do to raise a responsible child. 

You also need to be cognizant of the fact that there are a few things you should not do if you need to raise a responsible child. 

Below we have written 10 most common things that knowingly or unknowingly we might end up doing which we should refrain from doing.

  1. Don’t do too much: Don’t do too much of anything. Don’t indulge them for everything. Be it right from getting their things in order to picking up after them their dirty laundry to anything that you think they can do themselves. They need to get detached from you to be able to learn to do things on their own and become responsible. 
  2. Don’t be insistent: When you go about teaching responsibility to your child don’t be inconsistent in your approach. For example, one day you come down as a ton of bricks when your child has not completed the task. And the next day you are not bothered if they do it or not. The third day you work with them to complete it along with them. And the fourth day you completely give them some other task out of the blue 
  3. Don’t label: Ensure never to label your child as irresponsible. Once you start doing that your child will lose all motivation to act responsibly. They might even believe you and have no pressure to be responsible. Thus, will start a downward spiral. 
  4. Don’t encourage blame games:  One of the easy ways to evade responsibility is by blaming someone or something or even their circumstances for not doing it. Hear what your child has to say, so that you don’t miss out on a genuine concern that they might have. But by and large do not encourage the blame game that they would try to play. Teach them that their responsibility has to overcome the cause of discomfort and do it successfully. 
  5. Don’t give too much: Excess of anything is dangerous. The same goes with over indulging your kid by giving them too much than what they really need.For example, if your kid keeps getting a lot of toys, anything that they name, they get. Then they would feel no responsibility to maintain and keep their toys in proper order. Since they know that all they have to do is ask and they will get even if they broke the toy. 
  6. Never give threats: Threat with no consequence will soon be called out by your child. Threats and blackmailing are not a sustainable way to build responsibility in your child. It can even backfire on you if your child gets used to your threats and response stating that you can go ahead with your threat. Don’t weaken your position. 
  7. Don’t reward: Responsibility is something that your child needs to learn. It is not to be bought. You child to be responsible at all situations not only when they have something to gain. This brings about wrong conditioning in your child. 
  8. Don’t interfere too much: Let children do the task that is assigned to them in the way that they like to do it. You can give them suggestions later on if you feel they are complicating it too much. By and large don’t try to interfere in the way they are doing. It can be different from what you are used to doing but still let them come up with their own plan and strategy on how to tackle the issue. 
  9. Be careful not to bail them out too quickly: Don’t jump at every opportunity to bailout your kid. let them and you’re there and try to figure things out themselves full stop this will help them not only to become smarter but build the courage to face challenges in life.
  10. Avoid criticism or mockery: When you give children responsibility, they are bound to fail at one point to the other. We all have failed sometimes. It is not just failing in the end it can also be a mistake in the process in which they were doing.

It can look hilarious to you or it can look like a very simple thing that they were not able to do. Whatever be the case you should never criticize them for attempting to do it and failing. They might stay away from trying to do new things so that they are safe from your criticism and mockery. So, stay away from it at all cost 

Conclusion:

To raise a responsible child is a noble task. And be committed to it. Always stand by your child and keep whispering into their ears that they can do it. Cheer not only the achievement but also the process.  

Keep highlighting their capabilities and their talents and what they can achieve. Give them the needed exposure and be consistent in your limit, boundaries, rules and regulations.

Be persistent and own the responsibility to raise a responsible child. And your efforts will be acknowledged and might even be rewarded in its due time. Take cheer.

God Bless!!..

Thabitha David

Thabitha David

Mother, Wife, Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Friend. She is a MBA Graduate specialized in Human Resources. She is a very proud mother of 3 Kids. (2 Teens & 1 Tween). She is a keen Observer of Life and is a blogger. She writes these articles based on her experience (Success and Failures). She does this with hope to help and ease the pain of at-least one parent as they face the challenges of parenting. Read more from the About Us Page

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