Raise Responsible Children, Not Obedient Ones

Which would you rather have: a child who does what you ask but only when you ask (an obedient child) … or a child who does the right thing even when no one is looking simply because it’s the right thing to do (a responsible child)?

Most parents and teachers choose the latter. But if that’s what we want, why are so many adults still using outdated discipline techniques that promote obedience rather than responsibility? Such techniques include telling young people what to do, punishing them if they do not, and rewarding them if they do. These approaches teach only one thing: obedience. The shortcomings of obedience appear when teachers and parents are not around to use these external motivators. These discipline techniques fail to teach children how to have the inner motivation to act responsibly.

The Raise Responsibility System focuses on internal motivation, which builds the vision to act with responsible, autonomous behavior—whether or not anyone else is around. By teaching a developmental hierarchy, by using a guidance approach when irresponsibility occurs in the classroom, and—when necessary—by using authority without being punitive, we empower students to manage themselves to be responsible. When we foster responsibility, we foster the type of behavior that best serves our communities, our classrooms, and our future.