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Chores Foster Responsibility

Guiding Our Kids Through Early Adolescence

Your Adolescent

Our Last Best Shot: Guiding Our Children through Early Adolescence



by Tania Cowling


In order to become productive and happy adults, children need to learn how to take responsibility for their actions and follow through on commitments. The home is one of the best places for teaching responsibility and preparing children for the future. Teaching this trait requires a conscious and continuous effort from everyone who is involved in the childs life; parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers, peers, coaches and others. Here are some guidelines to help you teach your children about responsibility and solve problems at home or school. These facts are aimed at young people between the ages of 10 and 18.

  • Gradually letting go -If you continue to solve your childs problems or make her decisions for her, it makes it more difficult for your child to become a responsible adult. Instead, start letting go and let your child take responsibility and solve his/her own problems. This helps prepare your child for adulthood; living on her own and making decisions.
  • Long-term parenting - The kind of parenting that gets young people to do what you want in the short term (nagging, bossing, threats and punishment) doesn't usually teach long-term goals such as responsibility and maturity. Long-term parenting takes time and may not appear to be working at first. However, young people gradually develop responsibility and the ability to think for themselves. Here are some ways to practice long-term parenting.
  • Share feelings with your children.

       Help young people learn from mistakes.

       Listen respectfully.

       Show an interest in your childs input in setting rules and consequences and solving problems.

       Show concern with What will my children think about themselves?

  • Joint problem solving - This is where parents involve their child to brainstorm solutions. This is a good way to teach responsibility and how to make decisions. Situations such as household chores, homework, peers, schedules, even fighting with brothers and sisters. These are the five steps to use.

       Describe the problem.

       Tell how you feel about the situation (both parent and child).

       Brainstorm possible solutions.

       Try a solution.

       Select a time to check back to see if the solution is working.

  • Follow through - Your child will not always keep her end of a bargain, especially if peer pressure changes priorities. Instead of lecturing, use one word agreement. Some parents dont use words at all; a look, a smile, a raised eyebrow, or pointing to a dropped object on the floor or to an unread book is enough. Retain dignity and respect for yourself by following through, instead of giving up and letting your child do whatever she wants. At the same time, be respectful of the your child, knowing that she will often resist. In some situations it may help to write down the agreement not as a threat but as a record. Schedule a meeting where you and your child can re-evaluate the situation.





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