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5 Top Tips to Teach Your Child to Be Responsible


There comes a time in every child’s life when they need to start taking on some responsibility. When they’re little, we have to do everything for them, but as they become more capable and independent they need to start being introduced to new tasks and situations that will challenge them to think for themselves. They won’t always reach the right decision or do something perfectly, but if you can encourage them to try and not always leave the decision up to another person (i.e. you, a more dominant friend, or a teacher), they’ll grow up to be happier and more well-rounded. 

So, what are the best ways to start teaching children to be responsible? Here are 5 of the best tips to get you started: 

  1. Take on Joint Responsibility at First 

You’ll find a lot of advice for teaching responsibility that starts with accountability and consequences, but teaching responsibility this way is a one-way street to making children resentful and more likely to rebel against responsibilities. 

The best way to teach responsibility is to make it a natural part of their daily life, not something they must do or face dire consequences. This is often the mindset of unhappy parents stuck in jobs or responsibilities they’d rather not have (and aren’t brave enough to change), so make sure you don’t transfer negativity onto your children. 

Start simply by sharing responsibilities, such as tidying toys, making the bed, or putting clothes away. Listen to music and do it together, and allow them to do it on their own, even if it’s messier than you’d like! 

  1. Marry Responsibility with Choice 

To build on everything above, kids are much more likely to take on responsibility when it feels like they have more freedom (AKA choice) because of it. For example, you can make it their responsibility to choose new clothes, what outfit they’ll wear that day, or what you’ll have for dinner. When you use the word responsibility aloud with your children, marry it with empowerment and choice so they have positive connotations and desire to take on more. 

  1. Let Them Try New Things 

Children love to try new things, but can quickly be burned if they’re taught the adage, “you’ve made your bed, now lie in it.” If they ask to try gym class, but go a few times and don’t want to go again, don’t force them to continue. If they’d rather switch and try dance classes, then take them out to shop for ballet leotards for girls and let them try a new class. These classes will help them learn to listen and be disciplined, but they also need to be fun and an opportunity to make new friends outside of school. Having responsibility isn’t just seeing things through, it’s also being able to speak up when your feelings change and choose something better. 

  1. Let Them Help, Even if You’d Rather They Didn’t 

When your child wants to help you, they’re asking you to give them responsibility, so give it to them. It can be tempting to tell them it will just be faster if you do it or push them away because they won’t do it to a high enough standard, but allowing them to help will pay off hugely in the long run. Encourage teamwork, let them try new things, and gently guide them so they feel valued for their time and input. 

  1. Praise Them for Initiative 

Be conscious of what your child is doing and don’t be afraid of making a big deal with they take the initiative to do something for themselves. Did they tidy their room? Put their clothes in the hamper? Get themselves a snack? Help your younger children play? Whatever it is, tell them what a good job they’re doing and how much you appreciate them! 

Teaching your child to be responsible takes time and conscious effort on your part to balance freedom with necessity, especially when you’re in a rush or are getting frustrated. Avoid criticizing and keep in mind how you want them to be and feel as an adult, not just now as your child, as everything you teach them now will be the foundation for their success in the future.

Guide created by International Surrogacy Center, who can help you become a surrogate

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