Believe it or not Parenting!

How do I get my kids to be more responsible.??

Every parent remembers those tough days where not one of your children seemed to be sane. We all have at least one story about trying to create peace and ended up in total chaos. Maybe it is more like one story a day.  Does it seem that no matter what you have tried nothing seems to change behavior?

That is where this article can help make incredible differences.  It is filled with examples, testimonies, and lives changed all due to learning a few skills that bring: love, connection, trust, dedication, growth, and even a desire to build parent and child relationships that last a life time.

This article is about making connections that create learning, self-belief, self-trust and trust in others, and it also helps to disperse fears of not being good enough, the dreaded fear of failure and loss. This is one article that teaches parenting skill from a totally different direction and makes love and life out of chaos.

These principles have been used in schools with huge classes that had been struggling with discipline and without any sign of learning or growth. If these principles worked in the class room, they can work at home. Keep in mind these skills are principles. A principle is something that never changes. A good example is the principle of gravity. Even if you do not believe in gravity it is still real and in play at all times. The way we practice or live that principle can change. Like for example the principle of arrow dynamics. If you use aerodynamics you can use the gravitational pull to your advantage. If these principles can make a difference in a class room of 20 -30 kids then we can change how we practice these skills by using them with just a few kids. The kids that we love the most, our own children.

We will start with one of the biggest principles of teaching our children how to be responsible for their own lives. Wow that is a big order, right? In reality it is easier than you think. Try one principle at a time.

Being responsible is a key to children’s success both in school and in the larger world when they grow up. Parents often confuse obedience with responsibility. Most parents would love their children to do what the parent asks, to follow directions and to not question them. Yet part of learning to be responsible to learning to make choices on their own. Then of course understanding the consequences.

It at times is too much work to train children to clean up after themselves and help around home. It’s so much easier to do it yourself”. I get it. It is exhausting training children to be responsible. It is definitely easier to do it all by yourself. As a mother of six children of my own I can understand this principle yet it can keep you stuck doing this very thing for the rest of your life and your kids will follow suit for the rest of their life.  So, train with the end in mind. Even with the thought in mind that at some point your children will have the ability to serve you when the need arises.

Responsibility according to ability- How easy it is to go to extremes: either giving the child responsibility above their ability or requiring no responsibility at all. Keeping in mind that just because they are young we can easily not realize how much they are capable of doing. Generally, more than we know.

Teach when young. Of course, it is better to tach them when they are young, yet some of my readers may have not totally understood this when their children were young. So even as grandparents it is never too late.

Gradually increase responsibility- Even at 2-years- old they can learn to put away their toys when finished or put their dirty clothes in the hamper. You can download a sheet that tells approximately age ability for chores here:

Keeping in mind still that all children do not follow the exact suggested chores ability. Yet it can be a good place to start.

Having responsibility makes all of use feel needed. Including our children. They need to know that they too can contribute. Expressing how important a child’s contribution to the family can go a long way to encourage their understanding of responsibility. Let them know how much you appreciate all the help they do give. Being responsible is not always easy or fair. Yet it is important for us to remember we are working for the greater good for our life and for their future lives.

Love language- a big intrinsic reward for children is for us to know and do what makes them feel loved. If words of praise are what will work, do that. Then shower them with praise. If spending time with them is the trick then give them the time. Watch and be aware of how they react to your gifts of love then give them more of what makes them feel that way.

Following are some steps to take in teaching responsibility:

  1. Do it for them. This is when they are babies or toddlers. You are setting the example and they are watching you.
  2. Do it with them. Even as little as 1-2 years of age they can see and understand when you are picking up toys with them.
  3. Observe them doing.  This is not meant to be an observation in order to judge or especially criticize. This is a time to be amazed at how far they have come and to see if further teaching is needed.
  4. Let them do it all by themselves. They have come a long way and this will give them a great sense of accomplishment. They will feel more trusted, motivated, and confident.
  5. Have them teach someone else. Have you ever had the honor of having your 2-3-year-old teach you how to dry dishes? What a great feeling of accomplishment for both of you. Also have older children teach younger ones. This can lighten a burden for you. have younger ones teach older ones just for practice. This induces feelings of love for each other.

These same steps work if you are teaching older children to do more difficult chores, such as mowing the lawn.  

Over time, most parents want children to accept ownership for a task or chore- the children do it because it needs to be done and accept that it is their obligation to do it. Overtime, they may even initiate doing a task “because it needs to be done” not because they are being told to do it. This is called responsibility.

One of the hard parts of this teaching style is to remember that all of us are different and we do things differently. Parents may have to give up having things done exactly as they would like them done and on their exact timetable in order for a child to move from obedience to responsibility. But allowing a child to “do it his way” will encourage a feeling of pride in accomplishment and foster a sense of responsibility.

Healthy parenting occurs when children are raised in a home in which there is unconditional love along with clear boundaries, limits, rules and consequences.

Another great learning process is to have the children help make the rules and the consequences. They tend to make them harder than we would.

Let’s use a family camping situation to convey the lesson. What needs to be packed, what do they do to set up camp, and what is necessary to return home? Discuss each area in depth with your children, perhaps make a list before-hand so nothing is skipped keeping in mind that it is a good learning tool to have them participate in making the list.

What needs to be done? —–

Food planning




Equipment planning


What needs to be set up?


Kitchen or fire pit?

Then what needs to be packed?

Time to clean up and pack for heading home?

Take garbage to appropriate area.

Sweep out tent or clean and pack trailer.

Add or delete details of this list as needed for your family.

Now decide who will do what? This step can be a great learning curve because if one child does not follow through, a natural consequence should be enacted. For example, one time we went camping and the child in charge of bringing cooking utensils forgot them. We turned to the person responsible for bringing utensils and ask them to come up with a solution. We did this in a loving way with no criticism and sincerely wanting to have a solution. So, we ended up using a shovel to cut the watermelon. I can honestly say none of us have not forgotten utensils since that time. And we still laugh about it.

Finally, who and what needs to be cleaned up? Make these written lists so that there will be no discussion or forgetting who is doing what.

When someone is involved in the planning, they are more invested, more motivated and feel they are an important part of the family. If there is a mistake made, it is a great time to learn to laugh at yourself and make changes for the future. Like the example of forgetting the knife. This child said he was sorry, and he came up with the shovel idea. A natural consequence was used. Nothing else was needed. Such simple steps to get kids involved, and they can make mistakes in a safe environment.

At the very end, of camping, have the family make an evaluation and show appreciation. How did it all turn out in their eyes? What did they learn and what would they do differently?

IF you feel you need additional help please reach out. Thanks.

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