Raising a Responsible Child: Fact or Fiction?

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For some, getting married and having kids is the last and ultimate attainment, but actually it’s the beginning of a different set of achievements. Once you have kids, you have to raise them properly, you don’t just support them financially and provide food and clothes, but you need to look closer and monitor their actions to guide them so that they can one day be good parents themselves. Every action we make leaves an imprint on our kids; every word we say is processed in their minds and is translated into one thing or another. So we have to be extra careful because we shape them and it’s scary to shape them into something ugly when we have the chance to mold them into something beautiful.

Responsibility is one of the major things which make kids beautiful as they grow. Wanting the kids to be responsible is a universal parental demand, but there is a huge difference between wanting and doing. It needs awareness, perseverance and monitoring around the clock.

Most of us are too tired to monitor the kids 24/7, we are not ready to answer questions, follow psychological changes or a behavioral trend all the time. So we opt for the easiest way out, we ask them to go to play somewhere else, we let them watch more TV or we ask them to wait while we finish a phone call or do something else. The truth is that we are too busy and tired to be witty and respond with the right answer. We honestly do want our kids to shape up beautifully into responsible kids. We do know the importance of raising responsible kids and we sure don’t want our children to stay dependent or be reckless but acknowledging this fact and actually doing it is totally different. And you would probably say “of course every parent wants their kids to be responsible!” and I would answer, “NO”. Some parents depend on their kids to feel wanted, so they don’t want them to be responsible, they don’t want them to leave the nest or go find their own path. Some parents don’t want their kids to have their own dreams and try to choke them with their dreams. Some parents don’t let their kids be responsible for anything for fear that they might be burdening their kids. So they think for them, choose for them and even worry on their behalf! We hear a lot of stories about these types of parents, maybe they are scarce, but they exist. The majority however are stuck somewhere between wanting their kids to be responsible and actually doing something about it.

So, back to the subject, responsibility; it is a behavior that is learned and acquired. Part of parenting is to teach kids to be responsible by actually giving them responsibilities and hold them accountable for their actions so they develop into responsible adults. I am sure that there are so many women out there who would wish that their In-Laws would have been so smart while raising the son who is now the irresponsible spouse.

Just like any other thing in the world, if it is a learned behavior then its easy to master but requires a lot of practice, not only from the child but from parents as well.

What do we do then? First of all we have to assign chores starting at an early age; the chore has to be age appropriate of course. Children may need to be reminded at first but as they begin to complete their task on their own. Secondly, let them know you are proud of their responsible behavior once they accomplished it. The older the child becomes the more responsibilities you can give. Take into consideration that the chore has to be in agreement with the other chores the kids have like homework, sports practice or music lessons.

Next, reward them when they accomplish their responsibility, the reward has to be reasonable to their age too. If they don’t do what they were asked then you could take away some of their play time until they have taken care of their responsibility. Punish them if they didn’t finish their task, for example, let them prepare their swim bag, if they forget, then they should be deprived of swimming for the day, so next time they will sure remember to put in everything they need. Don’t threaten and take back your threat, this will only diminish the lesson you are trying to teach, they will know that next time you are going to let them go swimming anyway. Last, be a good role model for responsible behavior, children learn from teachers and there is no better teacher than parents.

The most important thing is to talk to your kids about values in life, the value of time, honesty, putting in hard work and of being cooperative in one’s family. Their lives should be deeper than just obtaining valuable things, it should be about giving. No matter what age your kids are, you could still teach them, just don’t give up.

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