Teaching your kids to take personal responsibility is a lifelong challenge. Some ages make it more challenging, but more than anything, starting late makes it hard. You can start teaching your kids about this when they’re toddlers, so it isn’t a sudden shock that they need to take care of themselves. There are also a lot of things you can do that help the process.
4H Club is a fantastic club that gives your kids the benefits of personal responsibility while also learning and having a ton of fun. They’ll have to work on group and independent projects, which will need to be completed on a timeline and usually judged by others in the program. Sometimes their work will have a direct impact on the lives of others, both people, and animal. With that, they’ll learn very quickly that not doing the work leads to letting others or themselves down, and that can be a powerful motivator for following through on commitments.
Have them Get a Job
Even kids who aren’t allowed to have a corporate job yet can still work. If your child loves animals, ask if they would be interested in volunteering at a local animal shelter, or babysitting a friend’s pet for a weekend. An elementary school child might do best with a fish or other animal, while older kids might be up for babysitting. Once they are old enough, a summer job is a great way to teach them about workplace expectation and money management at the same time.
Kids as young as two years old can help with the chores, and teenagers should certainly have some areas of responsibility. At a young age, tasks should be fun and done with the parents. Kids can help pick up their toys and put dirty clothes in the hamper. Little ones are especially fond of unloading the dishwasher, even though it might take 20 minutes to get the silverware finished.
As they get older, chores remain an opportunity to teach. You can show a teenager how to get grass and blood stains out of their clothes, teach them to cook and show them how it helps your mentality to work in a clean area. This becomes ingrained in them and helps give them a way to take pride in their work.
Get Involved in Sports
Sporting events are probably one of the most important things you can get your kids involved in. Group sports are excellent, but not everyone’s cup of tea. If your kid prefers to work on their own, then there are plenty of solo sports they can do too.
Some of those solo sports can offer incentives that group sports can’t. Sure, there’s no one depending on you, but there’s also no one else for you to depend on. If you don’t show up and do your best, there’s no one to blame but yourself. For example, golf requires independence and personal responsibility, and they’re expected to obey the golf course rules like fixing any divots they leave in the grass and keeping the pace up for the group following.
Demonstrate Efforts to Improve
No one is perfect, and you shouldn’t try to be. What you can do is try to be better. One way to encourage your kids to try and improve themselves is to make it a family event. Everyone can choose one activity that they want to improve on. It can be an instrument, schoolwork, personal skills, or anything else. Everyone picks a set amount of time to practice that activity each week, and you stick to it for whatever amount of time. If the whole family stays with their new skill, there can be a reward at the end of the period.
Set and Stick to Family Rules
This one always sounds easier than it is, but you can do it! One of the biggest influences on your kids is, of course, you and your partner. That means that the family rules have to apply to all of the adults in the house as well as the kids, including clean-up, not interrupting, and curfews. Of course, exceptions will be made like for dances, birthdays, and guests. But a set of rules that everyone is expected to follow allows you to model personal responsibility. Kids can’t learn something like that just by being told about it; they need to see it. Home is the best place to start.
Allow Natural Consequences
There are some things that you shouldn’t try and fix for your child. If you have a very young child that refuses to put on shoes before going outside, you can plan for that by bringing some shoes with you. The natural consequence the child has is that their feet may be cold or wet. An older child that has been procrastinating on a school project might get some reminders about it, but it’s their project. If they don’t do it, they need to deal with the consequences of that instead of expecting mom or dad to bail them out for it.
There are plenty of other ways to teach your kids to take responsibility for themselves. Once they start doing it, life becomes easier for everyone, and you’ll feel like you’re winning at this parenting thing!
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Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations, cultures, and styles, while communicating these endeavors through her passion for writing and expression. Her love for the world around her is portrayed through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. You can find her on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
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