How to Raise Responsibility in a Child: 7 Reliable Ways

“Totally irresponsible! We fight every day! She hired the best tutors for him, and still doesn’t study,” if you immediately noticed a contradiction in this tirade, most likely you don’t have problems with irresponsible children. Why this is so – we will tell in this article. Let`s talk about how to instill a sense of responsibility in a child.

Spoiler: sometimes we ourselves prevent him from appearing.

What is Responsibility

Looking at any explanatory dictionary, you can find out that responsibility is the ability to understand the consequences of one’s actions and be responsible for them, to fulfill the obligations taken. But dictionaries don’t say how this ability comes about. But psychologists say.

In psychology, responsibility is understood as a social skill that is not given at birth and does not arise after a “serious conversation”. It is formed from early childhood.

Many parents dream of raising a responsible, collected, punctual child, but at the same time they are in a hurry to do everything for the baby and quickly correct any mistakes. How then does he know that actions have consequences? How do you learn to do things on your own?

Responsibility is closely related to independence, although they are not the same thing. At first, independence arises – the child learns to dress himself, take dirty things to the basket, help his mother in the kitchen. Gradually, he realizes that he has responsibilities.

But responsibility is not autonomy. The three-year-old shouts with pleasure: “I will do it myself!” and is eager to pour water into a cup, not thinking that the cup will break. The ability to measure one`s strengths and bring what has been started to the end will come much later.

Responsibility is not performance. Trying to raise a responsible child, parents sometimes raise an obedient one. But an executive person is not always ready to make decisions. He can expect that he will be shown the correct option, and if something goes wrong, the one who indicated it will be to blame.

Responsibility and Freedom

Frederick Perls, a German psychologist and founder of Gestalt therapy, said in his seminars that responsibility is closely related to freedom. A responsible person understands that he has different options for behavior in any situation. He consciously chooses how to act, so he is ready to be responsible for the consequences.

Sometimes you have to choose hardships, like getting up an hour early to walk your dog, or spending your day off doing math. But when a teenager knows why he is doing it, there is motivation to continue.

Here we come to the question from the beginning of the article: what is wrong in a situation where a mother pays for tutors for her son and is angry at his irresponsibility? It’s simple: if there are quarrels, it means that studies are under pressure, and not by choice. You can’t teach a child to be responsible for something they didn`t choose. You can persuade him or force him – if there is leverage. But this has nothing to do with accountability.

Responsibility and Locus of Control

Another approach to accountability was proposed by the psychologist Julian Rotter, who coined the term “locus of control”. Let’s figure out what it is.

People with an external locus of control attribute their failures to external causes: coincidence, chronic bad luck, the presence of enemies, etc. This position is also found in adults who say that they did not succeed because they were born in the wrong country or do not have rich relatives.

People with an internal locus of control believe that they are responsible for their own successes and failures. They take into account the influence of external circumstances, but try not to go with the flow and rely mainly on themselves. In case of failure, they always see where they could foresee difficulties or how they could deal with them.

The question of how to instill responsibility in a teenager can be reformulated –   how to develop an internal locus of control. The personal example of parents helps in this. If adults often say that others are to blame for their troubles, the weather, bosses, a teenager will also get used to the idea of ​​the impossibility of changing something.

It happens that parents inadvertently teach their children an external locus of control from an early age. A typical example is given by the modern psychologist Anna Bykova: a little boy stumbles over a stump and cries, his mother reassures him: “Let’s scold the stump, that’s how bad he is, we will punish him.” And knocks on the stump with a spatula. It would seem a trifle. But words program thinking, and with each such case, the child gets used to thinking that anyone but himself is responsible for his “falls”.

Three Principles for Responsibility Building

Personal example of parents.

Children copy our weaknesses more often than our strengths. If parents do not keep their promises (even if for a good reason), the child learns to do the same and considers his own reasons important.

Parents who say that they are unlucky at work because they don’t have influential acquaintances may one day hear from their teenage son that he was unlucky because no one agreed with the teachers.

The right to free choice.

In order to be responsible for an act, the child must choose this act himself and understand why he does it this way and not otherwise.

It happens that others make a choice for a teenager. For example, a mother wants him to become an economist, while the child himself wants to be an artist, a sportsman or a musician. You can talk as much as you want about the prospects of professions, but until the student himself chooses the economy, he will not try.

Patience and a conscious approach.

It is impossible to raise an independent and responsible child in one day, telling him: “Then you do your homework and collect a bag for school.” It’s a long journey that starts with small steps.

At first, you will have to remind, look for incentives (“You will do your homework, and then we will go to the cinema”), assign small tasks (“Collect notebooks for tomorrow, iron the school shirt”), and only after a while he will become responsible.

It is also important not to scold the child for the wrong choice if something did not work out for him, and even more so not to correct the mistakes instead of him. This can completely discourage the desire to exercise independence.

If a child is reprimanded for every mistake, he either begins to lie to his parents, or decides not to do anything without direct instructions. Instead, discuss how to fix the error and outline specific steps.

How to Raise Responsibility in a Child: Advice from Psychologists

1. Give your child personal space

You can’t be held accountable for something you don’t control, such as the cleanliness of your neighbor’s apartment. In order to form a responsible attitude to things, the child must have a place where he feels like a full owner – his own room or at least a desk, his own drawer in the closet.

At first, the parents put things in order in children’s things, but gradually you need to transfer these responsibilities to the child. And do not rush to correct the shortcomings – it is better to endure mess for several days, so that he himself notices how difficult it is to find the right thing in the chaos.

2. Do not prohibit, but explain

Even in early childhood, it is important to emphasize the connection between the act and the consequences. Do not scold for soiled clothes, but tell that now there is nothing to go for a walk, and mom should spend time doing laundry, and not reading a fairy tale.

A teenager, on the other hand, will not listen to prohibitions at all –  one can agree with him only by explanation and persuasion.

3. Keep promises

To teach a child to be responsible, you need to be responsible yourself. Each time they fail to receive what they have promised, children become more and more convinced that it is not necessary to keep their word. Failed to fulfill the promise – explain to the child why it happened.

Unity among all family members is also important. If one of the parents ignores their obligations, the child may think: “Why can he, but I can’t.”

4. Do not impose your desires

We all want only the best for children, but our understanding may not coincide with the views of a teenager. If his desires do not go beyond legality, let him have a chance to realize them without criticism from his parents. Give your child the right to self-determination – there is no other way to learn how to make decisions and be responsible for them.

5. Gradually increase responsibilities

Even children of 4-5 years old can have household chores – put away their toys, put their shoes in their place, help their mother cook or wash the dishes. The child will do something wrong or awkward, but do not rush to take the plate from his hands. Let him feel independent and mature.

6. Believe in the child and his strength

Parents often have fears that the child will not be able to cope with some household task – he will fall off the ladder, cut himself, and the store will not have enough change.

Perhaps that is how it will be. But you have to take a chance, because a child who is constantly being taken care of becomes passive (especially when it comes to a future man). How to instill responsibility in a boy if you do not allow him to prove himself independent and strong?

7. Do not devalue actions

The first attempts to become responsible and independent can be weak – this is normal. Parents need support at this time. In no case do not devalue his actions with the words “it could be done better.”

Praise even small successes. Let him not buy all the products in the store or break a vase while wiping the dust – note that he still helped you, and this is important.

Each Age Has its Own Area of ​​Responsibility

Even a preschooler can choose their own hairstyle or decide what to wear for a walk. But without the help of his mother, he can not do. A truly wide range of rights and obligations becomes with the onset of adolescence. This is the time when the child begins to prepare for adulthood, becoming more responsible and independent.

Problems with responsibility at this time may appear if the child grew up in an environment of hypercontrol and harsh criticism. Having got used to the fact that absolutely everything is decided for him by adults, he will not even try to show independence. The other extreme is overprotection, which is also essentially a form of control. If parents try to eliminate all obstacles and difficulties in the way of the child, he does not have the slightest chance of forming responsibility.

Normally, already at 3–5 years old, the baby can decide what clothes to wear (taking into account the weather and the norms of decency), what food to choose from the offered, with whom to be friends. From about 6 years old, it is worth letting him choose a club or section, a hairstyle, books to read. So gradually the habit of making decisions and being responsible for them is formed.

How to Raise Responsibility in a 10-Year-Old Child

Let it on its own:

  • manage pocket money;
  • choose a section and / or hobby;
  • choose what clothes and hairstyle to wear;
  • decide how to spend time after school;
  • set time for homework;
  • plan a birthday party
  • prepare simple meals;
  • clean your room;
  • take care of pets.

How to Raise Responsibility in a 12-15-Year-Old Child

Let it on its own:

  • choose a future profession;
  • decide what time to get up in the morning in order to be on time for school;
  • change or not change their appearance;
  • wash your own clothes and linen;
  • if necessary, prepare dinner for the whole family;
  • monitor the availability of individual products, buy them in addition;
  • help with cleaning the whole house;
  • plan your holidays.

Responsibility arises from small everyday issues that a teenager has the right to solve on his own – without the help and unsolicited prompting of adults.

No matter how difficult it is, for the sake of the future, you need to give him this freedom and let him fill his bumps in something. After all, children grown in greenhouse conditions will sooner or later enter independent life anyway. But it is better that this happens on time, while mistakes are still forgivable and there is a reliable parental shoulder nearby.

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