Teaching Kids Responsibility

We want our children to grow into responsible adults. Just how do we accomplish that? Being responsible is a mark of character—a skill they must continue to hone and develop—but it’s also an attitude. It’s up to parents and teachers to instill and nurture a godly mindset so that kids value trustworthiness. And that training begins with us first demonstrating what duty and responsibility look like.

Rick Warren, founder and senior pastor of Saddleback Church, writes, “Nothing brings out the best in a person like having someone believe in him and trust him with responsibility. Jesus pointed this out. He said the way we grow is by being given responsibility. Luke 16 says, “Whoever can be trusted with a little can also be trusted with a lot … And if you cannot be trusted with things that belong to someone else, who will give you things of your own?” (v. 10, 12 NCV). Wise leaders and parents understand this principle. People respond to responsibility. Kids respond to responsibility. We all need places where we are trusted, where we can grow, develop, and prove ourselves. The only way you can learn the life skill of responsibility is by being given the opportunity to show responsibility.”

Children often hear, “You’re so irresponsible!” Most kids desperately want to measure up to our expectations. They want to gain our approval. But sometimes adults fail to show children how to be responsible in performing a duty. Our neglect results in their negligence.

God holds each person responsible for his or her thoughts, words, and deeds. Responsibility (and irresponsibility) is a learned behavior. Unless a child is trained to be responsible, he or she will probably follow the path of peers or pleasure. If you teach your children to be faithful in small ways, they will become responsible in large matters, too.

Together with your children, study the examples of Joseph (Genesis 39-41), Samuel (1 Samuel 2-3), Ruth (1-4), Daniel (1-2), and Esther (2). Consider how these individuals learned to be responsible before God and people. Discuss ways your child can gain privileges as he or she grows in responsibility (showing respect, caring for a pet, doing chores, cleaning up, etc.).

7 Responsibility Tips

1. Listen Closely: When kids feel they have a voice in family matters, they’re more likely to realize that their contribution counts.
2. Empower (Don’t Enable): Show kids what you expect (keep your expectations age-appropriate, of course). For example, if it’s making their beds, first demonstrate how it’s done and then let them show you by repeating the process.
3. Value By Doing: Invite children to join you in some tasks. Yes, it may take a bit longer, but by including them in daily chores you convey that you value their efforts.
4. Think Creatively: Assigning chores is good and sometimes necessary, but asking children for their own ideas is far better. Kids are more motivated to complete tasks when they are the ones who came up with the plan.
5. Expect the Best (Don’t Nag): Once a task is agreed upon and your child understands what is expected, hold him or her accountable in a wholesome and Christ-honoring way. No one likes to be badgered.
6. Ask Questions: Encourage children to reach positive solutions by asking them questions instead of providing answers and solutions. Doing so helps them think through each task and become solution oriented.
7. Build Confidence: Children genuinely need your affirmation. Communicate that you believe in them—no matter what. If you keep faith in your kids, they are more likely to keep faith in the Lord—and in you, too.

DiscipleLand’s family of resources forms a comprehensive Children’s Discipleship System™ – an intentional, relational, and transformational process designed to help children live from the inside out. When children experience Him, their lives will take on a whole new motivational paradigm. Discover the DiscipleLand difference – order your Free catalog.

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  1. iza July 6, 2012

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