Responsibility and the Developing Child

Here’s a timely and relevant article on teaching preschoolers about responsibility.

I was raised with daily decision-making tasks as a very young age. My mother said it was the easy way to keep me out of trouble and to minimize fights. (I was a very stubborn toddler…not terribly different from the stubborn woman I’ve grown into.) Simple things like choosing between two dresses to wear or books to read. They were simple decisions, but they taught me to start thinking for myself, to form opinions. When I did something wrong, I was expected to take responsibility for that as well.

I often wish today’s children were expected to take on responsibility for their decisions. It amazes me every time I tell a child their decisions have consequences and that they can control how a day at camp goes by making good decisions. They’re just baffled. They can’t imagine having choices because they really aren’t offered them.

They also have been taught somewhere along the line that anything bad they do will never, ever be their fault. Something will happen, and I’ll sit the child down to ask them what happened and what their thinking was before the problem happened. More often than not, the child responds, “I don’t know,” and a little probing reveals that they honestly weren’t thinking about their actions. What’s even more frightening is when the child in question is a fourth grader instead of a kindergartener.

Teaching a child about decision-making and taking responsibility for their own actions doesn’t rob a child of their childhood. It’s the first step to help them become successful children who will grow into successful adults. The goal of anyone near a child should be to help equip them to become the best adult they can be.

Or maybe I’m just crazy….


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