Kindergarten: Gaining Responsibility
"Oh, I wish he was more dependable!" How often do you utter those words? Responsibility can mean taking appropriate action without having to be reminded. Your child learns to be responsible gradually with lots of patience and support from you. Help your child begin to be more responsible by practicing a few guidelines.
Encourage decision making. The child who is always told what to do does not develop inner standards and controls. Parents are responsible for the child's nutrition, clothing and health habits, but she can still make choices. If she needs new clothes, parents can offer several selections that are acceptable in price and quality, rather than handing the child her new clothes. Inappropriate decisions need to be handled as learning experiences. This will encourage the child in the future. Avoid the "I told you so" attitude.
Give responsibility. Teach the child how to do the task. Don't do for the child what she can do for herself. This means teaching her how to perform tasks, encouraging good attitudes and reinforcing her efforts even if they don't quite measure up to adult skills or standards.
Encourage independence. Let the child know he can make wise decisions for himself. Here are some statements that foster independence: "It is really up to you," or, "If that is really what you like." Don't forget to allow for mistakes. By overemphasizing errors or by blaming a child for mistakes, parents may train him to give up. Children are no more perfect than adults.
Help your child feel competent by reinforcing, encouraging and appreciating his accomplishments. To be happy and successful in life, your child must come to believe that he is competent.
Teaching children to care for toys and other possessions will help them develop good habits. Encouragement can be provided by organizing the room so everything has a place. Labeling or color coding can help your child remember where things go. Remind him to put things away and explain why toys and other items need to be put back in place. When a child forgets, give a gentle verbal reminder such as, "Oh Mark, you will need to put the puzzle back before you start painting. I will get the paint set out for you while you do that." And during cleanup time, pitch in and help your child, making comments such as, I'll get these things here; can you get the blocks over there?" or, "What can I do to help you?" or, "Can you help me here?"
Reprinted with the permission of the Iowa State University Extension. © 2008 Iowa State University Extension.
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