what is it?

Being a responsible person includes the ability to consciously make decisions and behave in ways that help others and improve oneself. As adults, our responsibilities may include things like arriving to work on time, grocery shopping, and honoring commitments that you have made. In children, responsibility includes things like completing a task that is expected of them (brushing teeth, getting dressed) or caring for their belongings (putting dirty clothes in a hamper, cleaning up toys when done playing). Most importantly, a responsible person accepts the consequences of his or her own actions and decisions. 

why do we need it?

By being responsible, we gain each other’s trust as well as confidence in ourselves. Children will feel a sense of accomplishment by acting responsibly and trying their best. They will learn from making decisions for themselves. As children assume the consequences of their actions, they will learn how to make better decisions and ultimately become more independent. 

what are the goals?

In fostering a positive attitude in children, we are teaching them to: 

how do we teach it?

books we read

how to boost it at home

words we use

Give your child choices and opportunities to make decisions.

Children are more likely to follow through with a plan or stick to a decision if they had a part in making it.

Establish a routine.

Your child will learn responsible habits if you set a routine early on (for example, after we put on our pajamas, we brush our teeth). Through the establishment of a consistent routine, children will view chores as part of daily life. 

Mary Poppins famously said, "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down."

Make a game out of clean-up (“Can you put away all of your blocks before the timer runs out?”) and help your child understand that they can have fun while completing those tasks. 

Pour on the praise.

Give your child plentiful praise to let them know that their efforts are appreciated. Be sure to give specific praise: “Wow, it looks like you pulled every weed in the garden! Thank you for your hard work!” and point out the impact that their actions have: “The plants are going to be able to grow bigger and stronger now that those weeds are gone!” 

Give your child space to go through the decision-making process and discover the consequences of those actions.

Praise your child for his or her efforts rather than the outcome. For example, if your child wipes up spilled water on the table without being asked but the table is still wet, praise him/her for the decision and attempt at cleaning rather than pointing out that the table is still wet. 

Explain the benefits.

Point out that toys are less likely to get lost or broken if they are put away. Cleaning up an activity when done also clears the way for another activity and more fun! 

Break down a task into several age appropriate steps.

Telling a child to set the table may be overwhelming to them, but small steps like putting a plate in front of each chair, a napkin next to each plate, and a spoon and fork on each napkin are manageable for small children.

While reading books, stop to discuss challenges that the characters are facing and the decision they make.Ask your child questions like, “Do you think the character made a good choice?” “Why?” “Since the character decided to do this, what do you think might happen?” “If you were that character, would you have made the same decision?” “What are some other choices that the character had?” Talk with your child about how their actions impact others.When your child brushes their teeth before bed, explain that she is setting a good example for her younger brother. When you take out the trash barrel for an elderly neighbor, explain to your child that by doing so, the neighbor will no longer have to worry about how he was going to get down the stairs and drag the barrel drown the driveway by himself. 

Explain, as you and your child get ready to go bike riding, that by wearing a helmet you are making good choices that will keep you safe. 

Encourage your child to be accountable for their behavior by correcting mistakes. For example, if your child broke his sister’s block structure, help him to brainstorm actions he could take to help his sister. “You could make a card to say you are sorry for breaking her hard work and then offer to help rebuild the structure.” 

my character
character education | august


building character to last a lifetime!