by Susan Haid
Every time I mandate that my three children, ages 3 to 10, help with the dishes, housecleaning, laundry, pets or some other mundane task, I prove to myself over and over again how important these experiences are for my children. Of course, their contribution makes my life easier. However, I clearly see that they are not only quite capable of accomplishing these tasks, they are learning to take responsibility for their own life in the process.
Here are five tips to teach kids how to take responsibility around the home and for their developing lives.
1. Help kids learn how to organize and manage their belongings. We need to require that our kids clean their rooms, make their beds, put their own laundry away, keep track of their homework and school projects, sports gear, musical instruments and so on. Once in a while, we can give them a hand, but kids should know that they are the ones ultimately responsible for these duties.
2. Help kids become active contributors to life at home. Every member of a home should contribute to the upkeep and management of the home. Age appropriate duties should be assigned to each family member, and once every week or two, the family should work together to accomplish these tasks. Duties such as dusting, vacuuming, sweeping, wiping down the countertops, raking leaves and even cooking are jobs kids of all ages can participate in. These duties give our kids the skills to become competent contributors as adults.
3. Help kids learn to set boundaries so they honor their own needs as well as respect the needs of others. This is a fundamental lesson parents need to teach their kids. It’s OK in many circumstances to say no. We want our kids to stay in touch with what they may need and give them the skills to meet those needs. We also want our kids to be aware that everyone has the right to set boundaries when they are appropriate and necessary. This is a basic life skill.
4. Help kids learn to be accepting of differences. Having nonjudgmental conversations about the differences we encounter in the viewpoints, lifestyle, beliefs and ideas of others is a basic tenet of building a philosophy of acceptance and compassion in our kids. These are great conversations to have because they ultimately help our kids get clear about who they are, what they think and what they believe. This also means that our kids should have a safe place to express their individual viewpoint even if it is different from our own.
5. Help kids accept the outcome of their choices and create new ones.
It is the ultimate empowerment experience when kids make their own choices and have their own resulting experiences. As parents, of course we need to be aware of what our kids are choosing so that we can intervene if it is necessary to do so. Although it is often difficult to give up control, we simply can’t make every decision for our kids. This deprives them of their experiences, the consequences of which are far less during childhood compared to adulthood. As often as it is reasonable to give our kids the authority to make choices for themselves, we should do so and understand we are respecting their individuality, honoring their learning process and building their knowledge of and confidence in themselves.
These are basic requirements that have worked well in my home so far. I respect the rights of my children to live freely and happily. As their mother, I want my kids to have the skills to manage their lives very well without me or without the help of anyone else if they choose. I want to help my children become empowered and sovereign. By giving them reasonable responsibilities and expectations, I hope to provide them with the simple knowledge about how to successfully manage their own lives after they leave home. And ultimately, I want them to soar!
For more helpful information about empowering children, or for more information about Susan A. Haid and Lily’s Truth, visit www.lilystruth.com.