Skip to main content

Why teaching responsibility to children is crucial to their development

Why you want to teach your kids responsibility

PBS Kids defines responsibility as “being dependable, making good choices, and taking accountability for your actions.” Simply put, responsible people look out for more than just themselves. So why is teaching responsibility such a big part of kids’ development? According to the Center for Parenting Education, teaching a child to be responsible is essential to success in school and beyond.

There are many ways your child can exhibit responsibility. It’s a comprehensive term that incorporates different traits, including dependability, accountability, accepting credit, admitting mistakes, keeping your word, and meeting obligations.

Being responsible is not the same as being obedient. Many children follow the rules in school and at home because they are told. Things like chores and homework are often completed because a child is instructed to, not because they feel compelled to do them. Understanding the distinction between obedience and responsibility is key for children and parents.

Young boy setting table for lunch

Teaching kids responsibility

Responsibility may just be the most crucial character trait you can instill in children. Responsible children grow up to be contributing and kind members of society. Teaching a child to be responsible doesn’t happen overnight. It’s something that develops over time with constant modeling.

Responsible teens don’t just appear. The groundwork is laid as early as toddlerhood. Helicopter parenting has become a popular term in recent years and takes being an overprotective parent to another level. A helicopter parent actually hurts a child’s cognitive development because hovering this much takes away the need for kids to problem-solve and make decisions. So, what can parents do to raise a responsible child?

Parents looking at son perplexed

Avoid blame

It’s easy to point a finger when stuff happens. Blaming, however, teaches children to be defensive and ultimately leads to lying. Instead of blaming, model taking responsibility and avoid labeling a child as irresponsible.

Toddler makes a mess on the floor

Remember that stuff happens

Accidents happen. Milk gets spilled. Things get broken, and messes will undoubtedly be made. Instead of getting mad or dishing out blame, teach children that when accidents happen, we clean up. Next time milk spills in the middle of dinner, smile and hand out the paper towels to clean it up. When messes are handled calmly and with positivity, children are far more likely to pitch in. Of course, this is easier said than done. Anyone with children knows it’s quicker to send them out of the room after an angry outburst and clean up the spill, but doing so doesn’t teach responsibility whereas involving kids in the cleanup does.

A family doing chores together at home

Assign children chores

Having children complete chores around the house teaches accountability and encourages them to be helpful. Sure, doing the chore yourself is often simpler and faster, but that doesn’t teach a child to be accountable. Try and make chores fun by making a game of it, or incorporating music. Accept the chore isn’t necessarily going to be executed perfectly.

Two kids washing dishes

Accept kid help

When children are little they want to help their parents with the household chores. From washing the dishes to dusting the house, to folding the clothes, participating in the same chores their parents are doing allows them to feel useful and normalize doing chores. Let them help when they ask. It may make the chore longer to do, but it’s a big step on the road to responsibility.

Boy raking leaves in the yard

Let them do it themselves

Of course, it’s easier on busy mornings to put a child’s clothes on or brush their teeth. Doing so doesn’t teach responsibility. Instead, allow enough time in the morning or when leaving the house for kids to do those tasks for themselves.

son helping dad with chore

Develop routines

Children actually perform better at home and in school when there is structure. Morning and bedtime routines like washing hands, showering, and brushing teeth and hair are essential for proper hygiene. Having set times for homework helps children learn strong study habits. Routines around the house like doing laundry, making the bed, setting the table, and preparing meals are vital life skills kids need when they head off to college.

A mother and daughter with a chore chart

Encourage children to problem solve

One of the reasons why helicopter parenting is detrimental to a child’s development is because it inhibits problem-solving skills. Learning how to solve problems is a critical component of responsibility. Instead of stepping in, offer guidance and model problem-solving steps.

A girl with a chore chart

Work for pay

Providing kids the experience of earning payment for completing tasks is another stop on the road to responsibility. Earning an allowance is one way, as is paying children for doing harder chores like washing the car. Encourage tweens and teens to seek out small jobs in the neighborhood like dog walking, raking leaves, or mowing lawns.

A young boy at home helping prepare lunch by slicing tomatoes

Don’t automatically bail a child out of a mess

If your child lost a school or library book, don’t just write a check. Have the child either pay for the lost book from his or her allowance or pay part of the cost. When kids have to help pay for that broken window or smartphone, they will learn to be more careful and thus responsible.

As parents, we want our children to grow into responsible adults. Responsibility is an important character trait leading to success in school and beyond. Teaching a child responsibility starts at home and at a young age. Modeling responsibility and accountability go a long way toward raising a responsible child.

Editors' Recommendations

Dawn Miller
Dawn Miller began her professional life as an elementary school teacher before returning to her first love, writing. In…
There are actually some helpful benefits of tongue twisters for kids
Tongue twisters are a laugh, but did you know they are also a useful learning tool?
teenagers getting twisted over tongue twisters

Ready to get twisted? With tongue twisters that is! November 12 is National Tongue Twister Day, but you don't need to put those pickled peppers Peter Piper picked in a pot nor do you need to save tongue twisters for the fall. Tongue twisters have been around for ages and are simply a phrase that's hard for people to say clearly, especially when spoken quickly. Of course, tongue twisters don't have meaning and they're always a laugh, but did you know tongue twisters for kids can actually be helpful?
Benefits of tongue twisters
Many people might think of tongue twisters as a silly thing to do at a party. The big laugh always comes when someone says a tongue twister incorrectly. Sure, tongue twisters are fun, but saying them does serve a purpose, especially for the kiddos. Don't worry! Our tongues won't get twisted talking about these surprising perks of tongue twisters.
Since people try hard to say tongue twisters correctly, the practice actually helps speakers to articulate clearly and work on word pronunciation.
Developing speech muscles
Yes, people have speech muscles, and saying tongue twisters can help develop the muscles in the tongue used in pronouncing words. This's why tongue twisters are a great way to warm up those speech muscles before an oral presentation. Tongue twisters are also used to help kids and adults with stuttering.
Improve reading and language skills
Another added benefit of saying Sally sells seashells by the seashore is that tongue twisters for kids help improve fluency when speaking. Tongue twisters also expand vocabulary. Both of these perks translate into enhancing reading skills.
Learning English
Teachers often use tongue twisters in class with kids for the reasons previously mentioned. Tongue twisters are also a wonderful tool for kids and adults learning English.
Popular tongue twisters for kids
The key to saying tongue twisters is to try to say them three times fast. That's usually where tongue twisters trip up people, though some of us have difficulty saying them slowly. Here are a few popular tongue twisters to use in the car with kids, at a party, or just because.

Which witch is which?
He threw three free throws.
A snake sneaks to sneak a snack.
How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
If a dog chews shoes, whose shoes does he choose?
Nine nice night nurses nursing nicely.
Four fine fresh fish for you.
I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen.
Six sleek swans swam swiftly southwards.
We surely shall see the sun shine soon.

Read more
Bring imagination back into your kid’s playroom with these ingenious DIY ideas
These DIY kid's playroom ideas are super easy to achieve and great for boosting imagination
Montessori shelf playroom

The kid’s playroom should be a space not just for fun and letting off some of a child’s youthful energy, but also an educational hub that encourages imagination. As you curate a space for your child to play and grow, you’ll want to include unique activities to help them express themselves. So, we’re giving you some incredible DIY playroom ideas that not only make the space look nice but add more room for imaginative play and learning.

Add a chalkboard wall
A chalkboard wall is a classic playroom addition, functioning as both a teaching opportunity and an art station. Not to mention; it also curbs that desire to draw on the walls!

Read more
Thinking about homeschooling your child? Here’s why it’s a bad idea
If you want to homeschool, consider these reasons not to homeschool first
Frustrated mom homeschooling her children

Homeschooling isn't necessarily a new educational concept. The process where children are educated at home by their parents has been around for ages. It wasn't until the 70s that the practice gained in popularity. The late 90s and early 2000s also saw a resurgence in the number of students being homeschooled. Numbers again increased during the pandemic after remaining at around 3% since 2012, according to the United States Census Bureau.

The reasons parents may choose homeschooling over conventional education usually involve safety concerns, flexibility, frequent moving, and wanting to create a more individualized learning environment. While the idea of homeschooling your child might be attractive, it's actually not as simple as you may think. Before removing your child from school, consider these reasons not to homeschool.
Legal requirements for homeschooling
Homeschooling isn't as easy as just not sending your child back to school. There are legal requirements for homeschooling children, and they differ in each state. Some states like New York and Pennsylvania have stricter guidelines, while others like Florida have few. Before making the decision to remove your child from school, take the time to review the homeschooling laws for the state you live in.
Commitments involved in homeschooling
Making the decision to homeschool means one parent is about to become your child's full-time teacher. The idea that school can now easily become a year-round activity is an attractive one, but for the parent doing the teaching, it's another full-time job. In addition to being a parent and all that responsibility it entails, you're about to become your child's teacher, tutor, and principal. You will also be in charge of creating multiple daily lesson plans and researching curriculum, as well as finding materials. If you have multiple children, you will be planning and teaching for different age groups.

Read more