Teaching Kids About Responsibility is About More than Just Chore Charts

Teaching Kids About Responsibility is About More than Just Chore Charts 1

 

 

Source: creativehealthyfamily

Teaching kids about responsibility goes far beyond just handing them a list of chores to complete. Itโ€™s about teaching them the true value of those chores- both for themselves (they learn to work for what they want) and for everyone around them. Letโ€™s discuss.

Teaching Kids About Responsibility is About More than Just Chore Charts 2

Teaching Kids About Responsibility is About More than Just Chores

Teaching kids about responsibility is pretty much a thankless task when weโ€™re actually doing it. ย โ€œGee mom, Iโ€™m so glad that you made me fold laundry and clean my room before I could watch my favorite show,โ€ said no kid ever. But trust me, later in life when they actually get the lessons you were trying to teach them, theyโ€™ll be grateful.

Hereโ€™s the thing, though; itโ€™s not enough to just hand your kids a printout of a cute chore chart and say, โ€œDo these things on your list and Iโ€™ll give you $5 or let you watch your favorite show.โ€ย In fact, recent studies show that chores really haveย nothing to do withย teaching kids self-control and mayย actually be cutting intoย other important parts of childhood (academics, free time, and sleep).

While chores can (and should) definitely be aย partย of teaching kids about, theyโ€™re really the smallest part. We need to go far beyond giving our kids a list of chores. Letโ€™s talk about how to do just that.

teach your kids responsibility

Donโ€™t equate obedience with responsibility

There is a significant difference between obedience and responsibility. If your child does the dishes because you told him to, youโ€™re not teaching him to be responsibleโ€ฆyouโ€™re teaching him to obey a direct order. Iโ€™m not saying thatโ€™s a bad thing. Even the most permissive or gentle parents expect their kids to follow certain orders.

However, make no mistake about it, this particular lesson isnโ€™t going to make your kids more responsible. In fact, just giving kids orders to follow may actually make themย lessย responsible andย moreย reliant on others in the long run. After all, if you spend your entire life just doing what others tell you to do, youโ€™ll never really learn to think for yourself.

As theย Center for Parenting Educationย explains, โ€œโ€ฆ most parents want children to accept ownership for a task or chore โ€“ the children do it because it needs to be done and accept that it is their obligation to do it. Over time, they may even initiate doing a task โ€˜because it needs to be doneโ€“ not because they are being told to do it. This attitude would be called responsibility.โ€

Our children wonโ€™t become responsible unless they have responsibility. And like everything else, that starts at home. -Thomas Lickona, Ph.D
Our children wonโ€™t become responsible unless they have responsibility. And like everything else, that starts at home. -Thomas Lickona, Ph.D

Make chores about helping others, not following orders

A few months ago, in my post aboutย life lessons all kids need, we talked about how important it is to raise kids who find joy in helping others. When done right, chores can actually be a big part of instilling that sense of joy. Emphasis onย when done right.

If you just hand your kids a chore chart and say, โ€œItโ€™s your job to complete all of these tasks each week,โ€ weโ€™re basically back to simply raising obedient kids. Theyโ€™ll do it because you said so, end of the story.

Instead, take the time to explain to your kidsย whyย everyone has to do chores. Help them see how their contribution helps the entire family. How when you all work together- when you all take responsibility for the things that need to be done- everyone has more time for the more enjoyable things in life.

I think itโ€™s also important that our kids understand that by doing chores, theyโ€™re easing our burdens, too. Tell them honestly, โ€œMommy works all day. When I get home, my feet really hurt and Iโ€™m so tired. When you take out the trash and wash the dishes for me, it helps me so much because I can sit and take some pressure off my feet.โ€ Knowing that theyโ€™re helping you in a very real way shows them that being responsible is something to be proud of.

"It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings." ย 
โ€œIt is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.โ€

Teach them how to do things for themselvesโ€ฆand actually LET them do it

A big part of teaching responsibility to our kids means taking a step back and letting them learn how to do things for themselves. Sometimes, thatโ€™s easier said than done. We see our kids struggling to do something, so we step in and do it for them.

Worse, we want a chore done a specific way, so we hover, bark orders, and โ€œtskโ€ at them the entire time. Ultimately, they feel like they canโ€™t do it to your satisfaction, so they donโ€™t even bother trying. Or theyโ€™ll do the bare minimum because they know that youโ€™ll redo it after them anyway.

Itโ€™s not enough to teach kids to do things for themselves. We have to actually stay out of their way and LET them do it, even if it means that itโ€™s not exactly done the way weโ€™d do it. Oh, and if you do have to redo it after them, at least wait until theyโ€™re not around.

Now, if you find that your kids are doing a cruddy job with a specific chore on purpose, then you can step in and say, โ€œI know what youโ€™re doing here and itโ€™s not going to fly. If you choose to do it the wrong way, youโ€™ll have to do it again.โ€ That teaches them that responsibility isnโ€™t just doing somethingโ€ฆitโ€™s doing it right.

Teach your children to work for the things that they want, or they will never appreciate what they have.ย  They will expect everything to be given to them.
Teach your children to work for the things that they want, or they will never appreciate what they have.ย  They will expect everything to be given to them.

Let them to work for what they want

I have two ways of thinking when it comes to paying kids for doing chores. On the one hand, I feel like itโ€™s a good way to teach them the value of hard work and about what to expect in the real world. We do X, we get paid $Y.

On the other hand, though, I think itโ€™s important that everyone in the family have unpaid chores. Remember, the biggest lesson our kids should learn from these tasks is that families have a responsibility to help each other.

Besides, in the real world, no one pays mom to wash the dishes or do the laundry. Just like thereโ€™s a difference between obedience and responsibility, thereโ€™s a difference between responsibility and a job. Yes, working is part of being responsible, but like chores, itโ€™s really only a small part of it.

There are so many things that we have to do that no one pays us for that are just part of being a responsible adult and taking care of ourselves. Like washing our dishes or doing our laundry, for example.

But then weโ€™re back to the first hand. We want to teach our kids the value of hard work- and part of that is teaching them the MONETARY value of it. We donโ€™t want to just hand them everything they want on a silver platter. Instead, we want them to EARN it.

If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders. โ€“ย  Abigail Van Buren
If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders. โ€“ย  Abigail Van Buren

Teach kids the difference between a responsibility and a job

So, hereโ€™s what I propose we do instead. First, start each week by dividing up the chores that MUST be done, like cleaning tasks. No one gets paid for these things because theyโ€™reย family obligations.

Then, make a list of extra tasks. Things that donโ€™t need to be done, but that it would be nice to have done, or things that should be done at some point. In other words, necessary but not urgent. Like cleaning out the garage, gathering too-small clothes for the donation bin, and so on.

Next, assign a fair monetary value to these tasks based on the amount of labor involved. For example, cleaning the garage would earn more than gathering up clothes to donate because itโ€™s more difficult and time-consuming. Outline your expectations for the task, too. If youโ€™ll only pay out once the entire garage is sparkling-clean and organized, make that clear upfront.

Then, tell your kids that at some point each of these tasks will be assigned as unpaid chores (because they really DO have to get done sometime). For now, though, theyโ€™re voluntary and paid. Your kids can choose which they want to do and receive a fair wage for doing them, which they can use to pay for the things that they want.

quote about responsibility

Bottom line, completing a list of chores isnโ€™t what responsibility is all about. Itโ€™s not even about learning that nothing in life is free and that we have to work for what we want. Sure, those things matter a lot, but theyโ€™re still only a small part of the overall lesson.

True responsibility is recognizing that our actions affect others. ย That each and every one of us has a duty both to ourselves and to others. That we are all in this together, and no one is entitled to anything beyond whatย everyoneย is entitled to. In other words, no one is better than anyone else.

Most important of all, itโ€™s about raising kids that say, โ€œI must do something,โ€ rather than passing the buck to someone else or saying, โ€œSomeone really should do something about this.โ€ THAT is the truest value of responsibility.

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Author: thanhtam

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