- Family and Parenting
Teach Your Children Responsibility at a Young Age
Teaching Children To Be Responsible
What Worked in Our Family
When I had my first child at 21 many people questioned my husband's and my ability to raise a child at such a young age. We all know that young people who endeavor on having children are more often criticized than those who have children at a later age.
Being 21, it was a shock for both my husband (who was a boyfriend at the time) and me. What were we going to do and how would we be able to make it with another life to support. At the same time, we both were in college and working. This even raised more questions about our ability to “get the job done”. However, we didn't care what others thought because we were now thrust into the unknown world of parenting and in the matter of such a short amount of time our whole world was about to change.
Raising children by any standards is no easy task. Along the way you learn that children seem to be born with an innate ability to challenge their parents every step of the way. This even begins as early as when they are a baby. Children will use their charm to get their parents to do things we wouldn't dare do before having them. After all, who could resist a cute baby?!
Although we have the urge to give in and cater to our children's whims, we must realize that this is when the beginning of teaching them responsibility, patience, and other important character traits takes place. Children are very teachable at an early age and it is at this time parents can begin setting the tone for what they expect of their children. One of our first establishment of rule setting occurred when our 2 year old decided to throw a temper tantrum in a restaurant. We all know how we feel as parents when our children do this in public and are accustomed to the glaring eyes from others. We also know how those without children feel when they must sit and listen to another person's child scream for what seems like an eternity. Anyway, we were new at this parenting thing and when our 2 year old had a meltdown in the restaurant we knew we needed to take action so we took the screaming child out into the car to sit and enjoy a lovely time out, while the remainder of the family stayed behind to enjoy their meal. To many people, this might be strange, as most parents would just be willing to leave altogether. However, we felt that our child learned that he would not gain the attention he wanted and would lose out on being a part of the family during a time of meltdown. This valuable lesson is one that established our assertion as parents and helped paved the way for future lessons on being responsible, patient, diligent and obedient.
I could go on and on with stories about how our 3 children have challenged us throughout the years but that is not the point of this article. Listed below you will find some useful tips for teaching your children how to be responsible young people so they can become responsible adults.
When your baby cries don't initially pick him or her up. Let the baby cry for a little before indulging in meeting his/her needs (except when they are newborns). Babies learn very early on that they will be picked up at the first sign of crying. This essentially teaches them to be impatient and also does not encourage self soothing.
Set a time frame to make your baby sleep through the night and learn how to adjust to your schedule. From the time all 4 of our children were 5 months old we went through the rough sleeping through the night routine. The first few nights we let them cry it out was difficult but within 4 nights of doing this our children slept through then night without waking. This helped put them on a routine and also let them know that we were in control, not them.
Toddlers and Kids
Establish time out procedures in your house and stick to them. The general rule of thumb is to give them one minute in a time out for every year in age. Pick a place that is not entertaining for them and do not allow them to have any toys, favorite blankets, drinks, etc. The purpose of the time out is to discipline them and make it undesirable so they will want to behave. In our house, the stairs are used as a time out spot and our daughter absolutely hates sitting there. This strategy has worked with 2 of our kids and was very effective. Our son presented more of a challenge and we adopted a procedure called “Hugs”. Since he was such an angry child and very defiant at such a young age, we had to restrain him using “Hugs” when he was unable to control his own behavior. Once under control we released him from “Hugs” and had him tell us what he did wrong and asked him why he was in “Hugs”. For him, this proved to be more effective. This example was used to illustrate that time out may not work for every child, therefore it is important to determine what works for your child.
Whenever we would go out to eat another issue that often had was children not eating what they ordered. We all know that eating out with children can get expensive and no one ever eats the leftovers, even when taken home. This is when we started charging our children for the portion of their meal not eaten. We would prorate what they did not eat and they would owe us the balance. For example, if we paid $5 for the meal and they ate half, they would owe us $2.50. Any money collected this way was put into an envelope to later show them how much money they wasted by not eating what they ordered. The funny thing about doing this is that it really did work! My son hated parting with his money and my daughter realized that she quickly was in debt to us over wasted food.
These are just a few strategies offered in this posting. Stay tuned for Part 2, where more strategies will be given for children and teens.