2 Simple Techniques to Promote Responsibility

At times children—and especially adolescents—will not like what is required of them and will act as if they do not like their parents. Remarks such as, “You don’t understand,” or “I’m the only one who has to,” or “I’ll die if you don’t let me,” are attempts to have the parent relent and say “Yes” when the parent knows it is really best not to allow what the youth desires.

In these situations, the parent should focus on what is best for the youngster in the long run. However, in the process, the child needs to understand the reasons for the decision.

A simple technique to employ when a “No” needs to be given is to place the challenge on the youngster by simply saying, “Convince me.” The challenge encourages reflection and responsible thinking. This is especially important with teenagers who want to feel right even when they are wrong.

Another simple but underused technique is for the parent to first reflect on the reason for the parental decision. Then share the reason with the child. This can be very significant. The youngster has a reason for what he or she wants, for what is desired, and so, too, should the parent have a reason.

Just as our democratic system of government needs to be learned by each generation, so do the morals, values, and ethics upon which democracy rests. As parents, it is our job to model and teach the principles and behaviors we want our children to learn so they can become responsible citizens.