Teaching Responsibility To Your Toddler The Fun Way

Though it is instinctive for parents to protect their child, it is also important to let him be responsible for his actions. Here's how you can teach him to resolve some things himself.

By Kumudam Berkin

Teaching Responsibility To Your Toddler The Fun Way

Would you like to give your children an up-bringing that will make them an asset to the society? Look no further! This article shows you how you can teach your child to stop passing the buck and take responsibility for his action. The word responsibility means the ability to respond. Most of us feel the big word “responsibility” is something just for grown-ups. But the truth is that you can sow the seed of responsibility in your child when they are as old as just three years old.? Children do not understand the mistakes they make. They are also not at an age where they realize that their actions have repercussions. It is our job as parents to teach them what it means to be responsible for their actions. Teach responsibility to your child through fun. Being a responsible citizen gives your child a sense of pride and self-esteem.

Every child wants to feel that he matters as an individual and that his contribution is important. Here is how you can instill responsibility at home. If responsibility is instilled at home, it will automatically translate into actions outside.

1. Modeling responsible behaviour: This tops the list because children learn and remember what they see and not what they are told. We need to model responsible behaviour for our children to follow the same. If your child sees you putting your shoes away in the shoe cabinet every time you take them off and step into the house, he will follow suit. The rule of thumb is not to create rules which you do not follow. Teaching by example is the best way your child will learn responbility. Remember, we parents are the heroes in our child’s life. If you promise to take your child out to the park at 5 PM, follow it through and do not procrastinate. 

2. Involving and engaging: Let your child know that the house they live in is theirs as well. This will give her a sense of ownership and belonging. Engaging your child in daily chores is a sure shot way of teaching her what it means to be a responsible person. Let your child watch you make your bed. Then help her fold her sheets. Make it fun with a song about making your bed.

  • Kitchen: The next time your child wants to play with water, engage him while you are doing the dishes. The more you let your child into the kitchen the more interested he will be in chores related to cooking. Giving your child age-appropriate chores will go a long way in teaching him responsible actions.
  • Cleaning up: Before your child starts playtime with a set of toys, give him clear instructions on what is expected of him. Telling your child to clean up before he picks up a different toy or when he is done using one, teaches him to be accountable for the instructions given. Make it fun for your child by setting up a timer and asking him to clean up before the alarm goes off.

Your child should be able to do the following if he is between 4 and 5 years of age:

  • Wipe spills
  • Put away toys
  • Make the bed
  • Water house plants

3. Self care: Simple self-care activities like brushing teeth and putting on clothes can be taught. Encourage your child to dress up by himself, even though you might be able to do it more quickly. As they get better at this, he can be progressed to larger tasks like bathing or folding clothes. The key here is to be consistent with it until it becomes a habit for your child.

4. Setting up a routine: Providing your child with a routine and structure will help him know what is expected out of him. A checklist is something you can introduce to your toddler for simple tasks like brushing his teeth or taking a bath. If your toddler cannot read yet, use attractive pictures for him to understand.

During the initial stages, help your child with the activities. Make cleaning up the toys a fun game by telling him that the fastest one wins. After assisting him for a while, slowly step back and let your kid do it on his own. Don’t jump to correct him immediately when you see him make small mistakes. Once he completes the task, appreciate him and give suggestions for improvements. In closure, here are some guidelines to follow while teaching your children responsibility:

  1. Start early: When you do this, your teenager will not depend on you to make the bed or fix a quick breakfast.
  2. Don’t be a perfectionist and do not expect the same: Your child will feel like an underachiever if you insist on perfection. Set realistic expectations for your child.
  3. Do not entertain bribes: Never promise to buy candy or toys for your child when he finishes his chores. These chores are something that he has to do for his family and his house.
  4. Teach your child the importance of being accountable: Keeping your word is part of being responsible and you can teach this to your child by primarily being an example yourself. Secondly, when your child is entrusted with a task, follow up with him. Give him a deadline to accomplish it. Even better, let him give you a deadline which he is comfortable with. Make corrections only if it seems unreasonable.

As a mother or father, it is a very natural instinct to come to the rescue of your child and protect him. It is OK to help your child initially but it is also important to let him resolve some things himself and learn to be responsible for his actions. 

The author is a professional German translator, interpreter, foreign language instructor for schools and visiting faculty for colleges and corporates.

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