From fairness and generosity to responsibility and respect, instilling good character traits is a high priority for most parents. Children learn about character through their relationships and interactions, and they learn to model the behavior that they see around them. We place a lot of emphasis on academics in education, but are we nurturing the development of life skills while encouraging ethical and responsible behaviors? This is where character education comes in. Character education is about teaching children valuable life skills and values that they will carry with them throughout their life.
To help children understand what it really means to have good character, it’s best to keep it simple. Providing basic explanations and examples of what each trait looks like in their day-to-day life is key. One important element of our character is responsibility. Let your child know that being responsible means helping others and doing your part. It means always trying your best to follow the rules and do things the right way, even if no one is watching. Here are some simple ways to help teach your child how to be more responsible:
Doing chores with your children is a great way to get them to warm up to the idea of responsibility. By inviting your daughter to join you in the housework next time, she may feel like she is being valued. Your child will take pride in being able to help you with your work and will most likely strive to maintain this feeling. Not only does this teach responsibility, but also teamwork.
Lead the Way
It’s important to demonstrate to your child how chores are done before you assign them any of their own. Start with the small tasks, such as showing your son where the hamper is and how to put his clothes in there when he is done wearing them. Then work your way up to larger tasks such as showing him how to clean up a mess when he spills his food or drink.
Give Age-Appropriate Chores/Tasks
If you give your child tasks that are too difficult for her to complete, then she may get frustrated and not want to do them. That’s why it’s important to assign your child chores and tasks that are age appropriate.
- A toddler should be able to put the toys away when she is finished playing with them, or carry the dishes to the counter after she is finished eating.
- A preschooler should be able to set the dinner table, feed a pet, and dust her own room.
- An elementary aged child should be able to do the dishes, pack their own lunch, and vacuum the rooms.
Sometimes your child might not do their chores. When this happens, you can use this as an opportunity to help your child develop a sense of responsibility for his actions. If your child leaves toys lying around the house, tell him that he won’t be able to play with those toys until the next day if he doesn’t pick up after himself.
You will have to put your foot down by taking those toys away. Although there might be some crocodile tears, your child will ultimately learn that if he doesn’t take his responsibilities seriously, then he will suffer the consequences.
Chances are your four-year-old won’t be making the bed perfectly. It’s important that we manage our own expectations when we start giving our children their own responsibilities. Instead of criticizing them when they don’t meet your expectations, offer them recognition and praise when they do a good job.
At Cranium Academy, we include character education as part of our curriculum. Our character education program integrates building good character traits with positive discipline techniques used throughout the day. Our fun character curriculum involves the use of real-world examples that rely on engaging the students’ cognitive abilities to develop creative strategies. Overall, the goal of our character education program is to encourage students to be ethical and responsible individuals.
More in the Cranium character series: Fairness, Generosity, Respect, Caring, Citizenship