Parents want their children to grow into responsible, caring, capable adults. The foundation for these traits must be laid early if our children are to be prepared for adult life. Because no one is born knowing how to act responsibly, children must be taught these behaviors
Being responsible includes learning to:
- Be honest and accept responsibility for actions.
- Develop self-control and act with decency and kindness.
- Respect others and themselves. Practice good manners, take care of their health, and avoid risky behaviors.
- Show compassion.
- Demonstrate trustworthiness by following-through.
- Exhibit courage when standing up for beliefs and loyalty to friends and loved ones.
- Doing what is right- even when no one is looking.
How can parents encourage responsible behavior?
- Remember that we are always teaching our children something by our words and actions-or lack thereof. They hear what we say and watch closely what we do! In order to teach our children to be responsible we must be the kind of person we hope they will become.
- Expose our children to great literature. Children can be touched deeply by a moving story and characters that make an impression.
- Talk openly and honestly with children about choices and consequences. Let them observe your decision-making processes and teach them about weighing the pros and cons of a choice. If you make a mistake don’t hesitate to apologize!
- If your child makes an inappropriate choice, discuss the reason behind the decision and how things could have perhaps been handled better. Give less attention to the mistake and more attention to the healthier alternative.
- Provide opportunities for your child to be of service to others. Let him help you bake cookies for an ailing friend or perhaps cut the lawn of an elderly neighbor.
- Expect your child to contribute to household chores.
Let him know how valued his contributions are. Follow through with appropriate consequences if chores are neglected, but also remember to praise him for a job well done!
- Teach children to use good manners- they are an important part of respecting and caring for the feelings of others. Expect them to use words such as “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me.”
- Teach children to respect authority. Show respect towards persons who hold important positions such as police officers, teachers, members of the clergy, and grandparents. Remember, the way we speak and behave towards authority is the way our children will also.