It is never too soon to start teaching your child about responsibility. It’s a key skill that they will need as they take that leap from childhood to adulthood.
The sooner they start learning about this, the better equipped they will be when taking responsibility becomes imperative and when not doing so could have serious consequences.
1. Get them a pet
Pets are the perfect way to teach children about responsibility – this could be anything from a goldfish to a dog. Obviously, the bigger the pet the more responsibility they will have to take. A dog needs to be fed and watered, groomed, walked, and so on. Although a fish isn’t quite so demanding it still needs to be fed and cleaned out regularly. They won’t necessarily take complete responsibility, depending on their age and the pet, but give them a job of their own and explain the consequences it will have for their pet if they don’t complete it. They will quickly learn to ensure their pet is fed every day when they learn that by not doing this they could fall ill or even worse, die.
2. Give them their own section of the garden
That’s not to say they should be planting Italian cypress trees – save those jobs for yourself. But give them a section of the garden where they can grow a sunflower, create their own vegetable patch or simply plant some flowers. They will quickly learn that if they don’t take responsibility and water them regularly, they won’t grow. You never know, they could find it quite fun and having something to show for it at the end teaches them that responsibility reaps rewards.
3. Draw up a rota for chores
Obviously the chores you give your children should be age appropriate. However, the older they get the more chores they can take responsibility for.
Sit down together to draw it up and let him/her have a say in what they will be doing – so you can discuss why that chore is important and the consequence of them not doing it. For example, if their job is to dust downstairs once a week, you can explain that if it isn’t done it can cause allergies for the whole family. You might want to offer a financial incentive, which will help your child learn about financial responsibility too.
4. Let him/her make their own decisions
Responsibility is all about making our own decisions and then taking responsibility for our actions. Don’t always tell your child what they can and can’t do – allow them to make the decision (depending on the circumstances, of course) for themselves. If you think they are making the wrong decision, question it and encourage them to think whether they have made a responsible decision.
5. Don’t do things for them that they are able to do for themselves
As a parent you may find that it is often quicker and easier to do certain things for your child, than stand there arguing with them to do it for themselves. However, this is a key area where they can start to learn about taking responsibility. You will help them understand that they can’t always rely on others to do things for themselves.