Mom stimulates: Four tips for raising responsibility in boys and girls – Eme – 03.10.2022

Every day there are more and more specialists who note this responsibilities are healthy for children and even some, such as Antonio Ortuño Teresa, a Spanish child and adolescent clinical psychologist and family therapist, go even further and claim that not only are they healthy, but they are the key to happiness.

Boys who learn to be responsible from an early age show more autonomy, but also more persistence, because it is clear to them that their achievements depend on themselves, not on others, and they also tend to take more responsibility for their actions in general, beyond professional or academic achievement.

But in a society where childhood and adolescence are increasingly stretched out as parents fly over children like helicopters, caring far more for them than our parents ever did for us, we need to remind ourselves from time to time that yes being responsible is learned from a very early age and that it is our job to start instilling it in our sons and daughters from a very early age.

What should we keep in mind and what can we do about it?

Don’t confuse responsibility with obedience

A person who obeys does not follow his own criteria, but conforms to the will of the other for fear of punishment or because he has no choice but to do so, even when he does not agree. On the other hand, a person is responsible when he has mastered a given mandate and feels it to be his: he does it because “his conscience dictates it.” If we want to raise responsible sons and daughters, let’s start by distinguishing these two concepts and demanding more responsibility and less obedience.

Let us make an effort (even though it costs us more work and takes infinitely more time and requires more patience) so that our sons and daughters understand that they must conform to certain rules, instead of crossing the line based on mumbling and threats or extortion with rewards.

Allowing children to truly internalize their responsibilities

But to embrace this mandate, we must recognize ourselves as the primary ones affected by the consequences of our actions.

Therefore, we must allow children to sometimes experience what happens if they do not fulfill their responsibilities, so that they can weigh their actions and measure their consequences. They may not pack their suitcase when we go on holiday and by not doing so they may forget a favorite toy or not bring their homework to school and have to explain it to their teacher. It’s not about not wanting to help them fail and thus “learn”. It’s also not about not reminding them in a nice way of what we think they should do, it’s about doing it, but then “loosening” our control and really delegating the problem to them so that they really “take the lead”.

Responsibility as recognition

Eva Millet, writer, author of the book “Hyperparenting” (where she talks about the consequences of what parents call “helicopters”), says that when we stop doing something for our children and leave them free to do it themselves, we say you “you can!” and therefore, following this syllogism, when, on the contrary, we do everything for them (“because they are little and do not even understand what is best for them”), we tell them the opposite, we say “let me do it better” or “I don’t trust you on this.” And that clearly doesn’t make them happy.

For this reason, it is important that when we start delegating responsibilities to them, we do it as recognition, not punishment. If, on the other hand, responsibility is actually the punishment for doing or not doing such a thing, then, logically, it will be rejected and far from being voluntarily internalized.

Don’t wait to think “he’s not old enough to be responsible yet”

Responsibility is learned at home, not in the garden, not at school, because it should be a natural part of being members of the first team to which we will belong: the family, and therefore it is never too early to start promoting it.

Allowing children to help with things around the house, to “do their part” with small contributions to this team from their earliest childhood is the perfect way for this concept of cooperation and duty to be truly internalized as their own.

And in this way, when other external responsibilities arrive, they will be added naturally to an already formed base in which the boy or girl already understands that always, in all the teams of which they are a part, there are things that are “ours” and we must do them.

Therefore, although it is never too late to start encouraging responsibility in children, it is also never too early, on the contrary, the earlier the better.


claudia guimare

The Uruguayan sociologist and specialist in marketing and communication is the founder of Mama stimulates. In the group he runs from Argentina, he shares educational materials and solutions for parents.

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