By: Zaid Mohamad
When school’s out, our children will be spending a significant amount of time at home, over a long period of time. This can be a headache for unprepared parents —and an opportunity for others. One of the opportunities we can seize is to develop their sense of responsibility.
A responsible person is one who’s trustworthy or accountable for one’s actions. Contrary to what we may think, children can be trained and nurtured to become responsible, and we should start them at an early age. Yes, it’ll require some work and lots of patience on our part, but it will be well worth it. A responsible child is a valuable member of any family.
One easy way to start is by assigning them a specific chore at home. Generously reward them with praises for a job well done. Similarly, they should be held accountable, with pre-agreed consequences, if they fail to deliver.
Avoid monetary or material rewards, especially if these chores are already “must-do” responsibilities anyway. Just reward them with appreciation and positive words. On our part, don’t expect perfection either.
This is great training. Not only do we significantly reduce the work per person via sharing, but we also get to train them, every day, on leadership qualities such as responsibility, teamwork, discipline and time management.
There are many household chores that we can immediately ask our kids to be responsible for. One could be to take out the garbage and put in a new bag. During mealtimes, a few siblings can work together to set the table and the others can clear it after. Everyone must wash their own plates plus a few more light utensils.
Delegate and Share
Train the young ones to pick up their toys after playing. It’s important to train them from young, otherwise they may be accustomed to the idea that it’s their parents’ or domestic helper’s job to tidy up the mess.
Older children should be tasked with making their beds and tidying their rooms daily. They should also do major cleaning once a week or a fortnight. Get them to help outside their rooms too, such as watering the plants and washing the bathroom when needed.
The list is endless. Have a brainstorming session to list all the tasks that are suitable to be delegated. Then let them choose what they want to be responsible for. We just need to ensure that the tasks are divided fairly. On an ongoing basis, monitor and remind them regularly, with a lot of love, of course.
Assign these tasks even if you have a domestic helper. The helper can do the heavy household chores while the kids can do the lighter ones. You might ask why we should burden our kids with such work? Shouldn’t they spend their time studying? I agree to some degree, but I believe these tasks will not take much of their time.
Besides, it’s time well spent — training them to be responsible is good for their future.
About the author: Zaid Mohamad is the bestselling author of Smart Parents, Brighter Kids and Smart Parents, Richer Kids and writes for weekly column in The New Sunday Times. Zaid Mohamad holds an honours degree in Finance from University of Bridgeport and graduated with Summa Cum Laude (the highest honor level).
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