7 Tips for Teaching Your Child to Behave Responsibly

Teach your child how to behave responsibly
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Kids are forgetful, impulsive, and undisciplined by nature. That’s why it’s essential to teach them how to behave responsibly. Whether you want your child to get his homework done on time, or you want him to remember the feed the dog without being nagged, take a proactive approach to teaching responsibility. Here are seven tips for raising a responsible child:

1. Teach Your Child How to Do It Right

When kids don’t clean their room right, or they do a sloppy job on their homework, sometimes it’s because they lack the skills to do it right.

Rather than scold your child for doing something wrong, invest your energy into teaching him how to do it better next time.

Show your child what responsible behavior looks like. Explain your expectations and give him a little freedom to practice on his own. Provide plenty of guidance at first, and then slowly back off to allow him an opportunity to show that he can handle increased independence.

2. Praise Responsible Choices

Each time your child behaves responsibly, point it out. Say things like, “Great job remembering to hang your backpack up on the hook right when you got home from school,” or “I really like the way you shut off your video game right away when I told you it was time to do homework.” Praise encourages your child to keep up the good work.

3. Manage Your Reaction to Mistakes

If you react too harshly when your child makes a mistakes, your response may backfire. Scolding and lecturing a child who accidentally spills water on the floor, for example, could cause him to go to great lengths to avoid your overreaction in the future.

If he spills Kool-Aid on the carpet a week later, rather than ask for help cleaning up, he may place a magazine on top of the stain because he’s afraid of how you’ll react.

Research shows that harsh discipline turns kids into good liars. While it’s important to discipline your child when he breaks the rules, don't be too tough on him.

 Keep the focus on teaching your child to take responsibility for his own behavior, rather than punishing him for his mistakes.

4. Teach Problem-Solving Skills

Kids who lack problem-solving skills are more likely to behave irresponsibly. A child who can’t figure out how to get his homework done because he forgot his math book at school may avoid doing his work. Or a child who doesn’t know how to resolve a disagreement with a sibling, may resort to hitting.

Teach your child how to solve problems independently. When your child comes to you with a problem, don’t give him the answer. Instead, ask questions like, “What are your options?” Then help him identify the best course of action.

5. Allow for Natural Consequences

Sometimes natural consequences can be the best teacher. Resist the temptation to rescue your child from discomfort when it’s safe to do so. If he keeps forgetting to bring his lunch to school, don’t deliver it to him. Or if he refuses to wear a jacket when it’s chilly outside, let him go outside and get a little cold.

Natural consequences can teach him to behave more responsibly in the future.

6. Set Your Child up for Success

If your child has difficulties in certain areas, create strategies that will set him up for success. For example, a child who struggles to get ready for school on time may benefit from having more structure to his morning routine. Create a chart of all the things he needs to do in the morning – like brush his teeth. Additionally, create a chart of all the things he can do the night before – like pack his backpack and get his clothes ready.

7. Implement Reward Systems

Reward systems are a great way to put the responsibility back in your child’s hands. Token economy systems, sticker charts, or Grandma’s Rule of Discipline, can all be helpful ways to link incentives – like TV time – to good behavior.

Avoid nagging your child. Offering repeated reminders makes you take on the bulk of the responsibility, not your child. Instead, give your child an opportunity to earn his privileges based on his responsible behavior.

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