As children grow older it becomes more and more important that they become responsible, independent, and confident in themselves. We all want responsible children, the trick is how to raise responsible kids! Kids need a little guidance and a little follow through but raising responsible children is very doable. Today, I am happy to have Lindsay Jenkins from The Elusive Follow-Through share with us her best tips on how raise responsible kids.
4 Tips on How to Raise Responsible Kids (From a Mama who’s Done It!)
By Lindsay Jenkins
About two years ago, after getting my Master’s in Accounting, I entered the corporate world full-time. I had been a stay-at-home-mom for sixteen years before that, raising my kiddos and loving life. During that time, however, I always felt like I should have been doing more to contribute to our family’s finances.
I was worried at first about how our family would fare with me working full-time. At first, it was hard. After a while, with help from Mike and me, the kids started working together to have the home presentable. Let’s face it, no kid cleans as well as mom does! But they had dinner ready, and homework done.
They weren’t perfect at it, and at first it seemed like there were more bad days than good. However, because I had worked so hard when they were little to teach them how to be self-reliant, they made fast progress.
It allowed me to have freedom to enjoy time with my family. I could do a short amount of cleaning after we ate. Then we could spend the rest of the time relaxing, playing games, going for walks, watching movies, etc. It was wonderful!
We raised our kids not only to help take care of our home, but also to take care of their finances. We taught them how to make and keep appointments, declutter, and many other important skills that have helped them be successful. Now, as they move out on their own, they are fully equipped to handle life’s challenges.
4 Steps To Raise Responsible Kids
1. We helped our children to change their outlook on responsibility by helping them feel pride in ownership.
By helping our kids to see that they are actually creating a product, much like a successful businessperson would, it helps them to feel proud of what they are doing and naturally want to do a better job of producing it. Of course, that’s not the only motivator in how to raise responsible kids, but it’s a start. It helps them realize that only they are responsible for the outcome.
Clearly this is better understood by older children, but even young children can feel proud of their accomplishments. The more you praise to others what they’ve done, in front of your children, the more they realize that working hard at something that’s good gets them that positive attention they crave. Be sure that your compliments are specific to what they did, such as, “Susie worked really hard to make these tacos for us and I’m so proud of her!” Remember, this is key no matter the end result.
If they worked really hard, putting in a lot of effort and really rising to the challenge, it should be praised! We had a lot of meal disasters over the years, but because we were constantly praising the effort instead of the result, the kids were always willing and excited to try again. Now, they are making things like curry chicken and rice, homemade-from-scratch fettucine alfredo, and even barbecuing all on their own!
2. Express positive feedback on what they do right when giving negative feedback on what they do wrong. Then ask what they need and make it a priority to give it to them, within reason.
Nobody wants to always hear what they are doing wrong. However, negative feedback is just as important and valuable as positive feedback and encouragement. The key is to deliver it in such a way where they don’t feel attacked. Instead, they feel as if they are learning something. Telling them the specific things they are doing right along with where they can improve makes a world of difference. It makes them feel appreciated; knowing you are proud of them for really trying can help the good behavior to continue. Positive feedback can go a long way in how to raise responsible kids.
When delivering negative feedback, it’s important that it be delivered along with at least two positive statements. As an example, let’s say your child frequently whines when you ask her to do something. Don’t get frustrated and lose your temper. How’s having both of you out of control going to help anyone? Instead, calmly say to her, “Susie, I am so proud of you when you… [her good action here] and I really appreciate it when you… [a second good action]. Those things are so wonderful about you! However, I need for you to try harder not to whine when I ask you to do something because… [this is where you will need to explain how it makes it difficult]. What do you need from me to help you make this happen?”
With that question, you need to be prepared to listen to her answer and actually fulfill the request, within reason. Clearly, if she says, “Don’t make me do the chores!” that won’t work. In that case, say something along the lines of, “I’m sorry, kid, but that’s something I can’t do. I know doing chores isn’t always fun, but our family works together as a team, so everyone needs to help. How else can I help you?”
In a two-parent household, the key is that both of you are consistent in handling it this way. Do not allow the child to pit you against each other. If they come to you asking for something, you can respond with, “I’ll talk to your mom/dad about it.”
3. Provide some incentive or make it a game!
Incentives can be used as one tool in how to raise responsible kids. We don’t give our kids an allowance, and although the majority of their chores have to be done simply because we are all part of a team, some of them come with incentives for chores and rewards for good grades. Here are two ideas for incentives that we have used and that have been successful:
The Quarter Game
Get $10 worth of quarters (or however much you want below that) and put them in a jar. The kids get to keep the jar on their dresser as a constant visual. Make the jar bright! Let the kids know that every few days you are going to do a random “spot check” in their room. Put those items you have to pick up in a basket and the kids have to pay you for them out of their quarters.
Whichever quarters you end up getting back, those get put toward the next month’s quarters. The key to this one is to follow through on doing the random spot checks and making the kids “pay” for the items. At the end of the month, whatever quarters your child kept can be traded in for dollars so you can use the quarters next month. That way, you don’t have to constantly go to the bank to get quarters.
The Gift Card Game
Whenever your family is doing a really big cleaning or decluttering project, go around ahead of time hiding little index cards that say, “Good for [insert whatever reward here]”. If they find the card, which is usually hidden somewhere difficult to find like behind the toilet or on a baseboard in a corner, they get the item the card is good for if they did the job to your satisfaction. You will need to write what the job is on that card so that when they redeem it, you can check it before giving them the reward. The reward can be something as simple as a quarter or a piece of candy, or as complex as a date with mom. If you would like a set of cards already made for this game, just fill out your information in the box here and you can get them instantly sent to your inbox for FREE!
4. Create a system that ensures they are getting their assignments done without your constant monitoring.
For how to raise responsible kids, there have to be incentives or consequences with older children on which you are willing to follow through. The system we use to make sure our kids get their chores done while we are at work is simple. We post a job chart and checklists in each room of what needs to be done. Each common room is assigned as a chore in addition to bedrooms daily. Each family has to do dinner one night a week. No one is exempt from any chore, including Mike and me.
The child below them on the chart is responsible for reviewing their chore and signing off. If Mike and I get home and find something wrong with the room to which they were assigned, the reviewer is the one who has to fix it. This keeps the kids accountable to each other instead of us. The reviewer doesn’t want to have to fix the mistake of the reviewee in addition to their own chore, so they will, in theory, be as thorough as one of us parents would when they review! We will have more details about our system, including a job chart, room signs, and everything else you’ll need to implement it, in our course, Raising Your Self-Reliant Child. If you are interested in this course, sign up here to be the first to know when it’s released!
When your kids know that they have tasks expected of them at home and there will be consequences for not finishing them, they will make sure they are done. Remember, though, in order for this to be successful, you as parents have to follow through on the consequences you have set in place. Do this no matter how inconvenient it might be for you!
Remember, parents, you are your child’s greatest teacher! They will learn life’s most valuable lessons from you, not from anyone else! Our goal as parents is to raise our children to be productive, self-reliant contributors to society. By implementing these expectations and systems now for how to raise responsible kids, you will ensure that your child will have the tools necessary. They will be prepared to face any life challenge. They will have confidence in their own ability to handle what might come their way!
You got this, and you’re gonna rock it!
If you want to hear me explain all of this and other topics, along with my husband Mike, in a funny and engaging way, you can go find our podcast, The Elusive Follow-Through, on iTunes, Spotify, or Google Play. Subscribe today and let me know what you think!
Big thanks to Lindsay for sharing her fabulous tips on how to raise responsible kids. Which tip really resonated with you?