I was recently talking to a mother of a five-year-old boy about rules versus responsibilities. I’ve often said that rules are meant to control, while responsibilities empower. This mother was a great example of how this mindset plays out in the home.
She explained that in their home, everyone (mom, dad, and all the children) all have the same responsibility: “to help the family unit run smoothly.” How each person acts out that responsibility is up to them. She explained that even her five-year-old son had this responsibility instilled in him. In fact, it’s common for him to do the laundry (correctly), clean up the dinner plates (without being asked), and tidy up the living room each morning before leaving for school (just because he feels it makes the house look nicer).
Because he is empowered with responsibility rather than burdened with rules, he is much more eager to go above and beyond what most kindergarteners do in the home.
What kind of responsibilities can you give to your children? Here are some great ones to start with:
- Take care of my things.
- Be kind to others and to myself.
- Accept ownership of my choices.
- Respect other people’s property.
- Plan ahead so that I can be on time.
Rather than try to force rules on your children, empower them with responsibilities. The difference will amaze you.