A Simple Way to Promote Responsibility

Always encourage youngsters to look to themselves to solve problems, rather than relying on others. This is of critical importance because parents, desiring to help their children, too often do things for them that they could and should be doing themselves. In these situations, parents not only create more work and more stress for themselves, but, more important, they deprive young people of opportunities for growth and developing responsibility.

As it has been aptly said, “If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders.” If your children are to learn how to become responsible, they must experience responsibility.

When children have a problem, rather than solve it for them, ask, “What do you suggest?” and “Do you want me to do it, or can you handle it yourself?” Invariably, the child will come up with a solution that doesn’t involve the parent.

Never take on the child’s problems if he or she is capable of meeting the challenge. The reason is that every time you solve a problem for a child who is capable of solving the problem without you, you are depriving the youngster of an opportunity to become more responsible. The youngster also misses the satisfaction that arises from the effort.

In such situations, start with empathy before referring to the youngster’s handling the situation. It can sound something like this: “I know it is hard; the same thing happened to me when I was younger. But what would an extraordinary person do in this situation?”

In other words, elicit a possible solution from the youngster.