Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Duty-bound kids: Teach them responsibility from young

Duty-bound kids

> Children should be taught responsibility at a young age to enable them to grow up into conscientious adults

By: by Anna Tham (Tue, 22 Jun 2010)

RESPONSIBILITY is something we need to teach our children. It is not something they can ‘pick up’ along the way as they grow older.
A child will not realise that he needs to tidy up his toys after playing if you don’t teach him to do so. He may not understand that it matters to be punctual for a meeting or a dinner appointment if you don’t model the right example.
Young children learn from mimicking us while the older ones may see through our double standards if we don’t practise what we preach.
Do we leave our things lying around in a messy heap? Do we keep our promises or are we always late for appointments? Do we spend our money carefully? Do we procrastinate or do the important things that have to be done even if we don’t feel like it?
Children as young as three can be taught responsibility, starting with simple chores such as picking up their toys and books and putting them back where they belong.
‘A place for everything, and everything in its place’ is a good mantra for everyone in the family to remember and learn to be responsible for their belongings and keep them in neat and good condition.
School-going children can be tasked with the responsibility of making their own beds, packing their own schoolbags or helping out with simple household chores such as sweeping the floor, feeding a pet or washing the dishes. The important thing is that the task should be age-appropriate and need not be completed perfectly.
Provide them with the tools but let them do the job themselves. Do not criticise if the job is not done well. Instead, encourage and praise them for their effort.
Don’t overwhelm them all of a sudden with too many responsibilities. Setting them up for failure with too many tasks will discourage them. Small successes will motivate them to want to carry out all their responsibilities voluntarily without being nagged to do so.
If they are irresponsible, allow them to face the consequences. We may be tempted to make another trip to school to hand over the book he left behind, or we may want to sit down with him and help him do every bit of his homework, but if we did, we will not be teaching him to be responsible.
Children need to learn to manage the situation and deal with the consequences of their irresponsibility. We need to refrain from rescuing them all the time.
Teach your child to manage money. Let him keep his savings (as long as it’s not too huge a sum) and learn not to spend more than he has. Inculcate in him the habit to save and that it is not good to borrow money if he doesn’t have enough to buy something he wants. Encourage him to save until he has enough money to buy it.
Let him participate in team-related activities, or do volunteer work and part-time jobs when he is old enough. These are activities that require him to be punctual, considerate of others and perform certain tasks even if he does not feel like doing them.
Finally, like with all other things we want to teach our children, we need to exercise love and patience. Just like us, they need time to learn and change.
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