Responsibility: A Recipe At Home
Every parent can tell you that raising a kid isn’t easy. Joyful? Rewarding? Yes. But “easy”? That’s not exactly the best adjective one would gravitate toward to describe the role of raising a human in a world that tends to teach the opposite of what we want them to know.
Klassen Cookies seeks to comprehensively change the world; not only at school, but also at home. One of our aims is to help parents raise kind, responsible and respectful children who, with the support of schools, can go out and be awesome little humans who make a BIG difference!
Do you find:
- You tell your child to do something 10 times before any action is taken, if at all?
- They complain, sigh, or roll their eyes when you ask a task of them?
- You are often exhausted and end up yelling at them to complete a chore or pick up after themselves?
- They are messy/disorganized?
Teaching children responsibility at home plays a huge role in how they will perform and behave at school. If they’re giving you the eye roll at home, chances are they are also doing it at school, or simply not doing what is being asked of them, like keeping up with assignments. Providing children with opportunities to have responsibility at home will give them important life skills that will help them to be successful not only at school, but in their careers later on. These important skills include work ethic, time management, cleanliness, organizational skills, respect, manners, and the ability to follow instructions while respecting authority.
By giving them responsibilities now you are preparing them for a brighter future.
In my household, we started teaching our now-five-year-old to clean up after himself as soon as he could start grabbing toys. We began to model putting the toys away when he was finished playing with them because this would later lead to good habits. As soon as he was coordinated enough we made him start clearing the table, with help of course.
Now that he’s 5 he helps or does the following chores: (* indicates he does it with assistance)
- Dishes *
- Taking out the garbage *
- Cleaning the house (vacuuming, dusting, cleaning toilets) *
- Folding his own laundry, and putting it away
- Feeding the dog
- Bagging his own snacks for school *
- Packing his backpack for school the night before *
- Cleaning his room
Three rules for completing these tasks
- Do it with a happy heart
- Be sweet
- Change the world
Do it with a happy heart
This means no complaining. Complaining is a big no-no in our household. Instead, we encourage communicating to get your point across, but complaining is not okay. There’s a difference between complaining and communicating. Complaining doesn’t solve any problems, it’s just negative thoughts that are expressed with no real purpose behind them. Communicating is a statement of expression, and effective communication uses words like “I feel…”
Complaining: Cleaning my room is so boring! It’s messy and is going to take forever!
Communicating: I feel kind of upset that I let my room get this bad and now it’s going to take me some time to clean it.
In the “communication” statement, the child is expressing their frustration with having to clean up the room, but recognizing that it’s probably their own fault.
A happy heart means you are doing the tasks willingly with the understanding that there’s a purpose with clear expectations that have been stated by the parent.
- All of the clothes put away properly
- Toys in the correct bins
- No items under the bed
- All dishes picked up
- Bed made
It may even be helpful to write it down as a list for the child to check off. This is especially a good idea for children with attention or processing difficulties. I recommend a dry erase board in the bedroom to help with this, and so many other tasks! Preparing a list, helping a child to understand complaining verses communicating, and stating clear expectations will help them to have a happy heart.
If you don’t do it with a happy heart, you might as well not perform the task at all. It’s like picking up your friend to take her to work because her car isn’t operating, and when you get there you tell her, “I have a million things I could be doing right now and I don’t have time for this. Get in the car!” What is your friend going to think? She’s probably going to feel bad, and she may even get out of the car and say that she’ll find another way to get to work. In my house we communicate everything to my son so he understands why the tasks are important. (Why picking up your friend is important and the right thing to do. She needs help!) I want my son to know it’s not just busy work, but in order for our house to run smoothly we all must work together. We need to do the dishes so that we have clean dishes to use the next day, and because leaving dishes in the sink means they will start to smell. Having a happy heart means doing it with a smile and understanding the purpose.
What is the purpose of having him do the dishes? He’s learning responsibility in a cause and effect way.
What if your child didn’t want to do the dishes, complained, and gave you a hard time?
This would, obviously, be the opposite of having a happy heart.
Sometimes kids need “natural consequences” before they take action. A natural consequence may be leaving the dishes in the sink and allow them pile up. If you run out of dishes then there’s the natural consequence: you now don’t have any clean dishes to eat from because the person who had the responsibility of doing them didn’t and it’s now affected the household.
A natural consequence is a different consequence than punishing. In this case, the child isn’t being punished for not doing the dishes, rather, they’re going to receive a cause and effect punishment that’s directly related.
If the child complained enough and you sent them to their room as a punishment, and then you proceeded to do the dishes, they are still getting out of doing the dishes. All you’ve taught them is that if they complain enough then someone else will do them and they are off the hook, even if they had a slight punishment.
Children who complain about every task have learned that this complaining either results in a punishment that has no affect on them, or that their complaining gets them out of a task eventually somehow. Changing their mindset to a happy heart will create a habit that will naturally turn into responsibility.
This means having good manners. Not only is the expectation that you perform tasks with a happy heart, but that you use kind words that will also mimic the happy heart. As a teacher I’ve noticed that students don’t use “sweet words” (manners) as much as they once did. It’s important to my husband and I that we teach our son “sweet words” that will help him to be kind and humble, and the expectation is that these are also used when performing household responsibilities.
- Yes ma’am/sir, No ma’am/sir
- Thank You/No Thank You
- May I… (Not “Can I…”)
- Excuse me
- I’m sorry… (Apologizing)
- Offering compliments to others
Change the World
Implementing all of this together will positively impact the world, because changing the world in a big way starts by changing the world in a small way. This begins right at home and school. It will help us to raise little humans who are respectful, organized, kind, humble and are willing to help.
But if this isn’t something you started early on and you now have a school aged child who doesn’t want to take responsibility for anything, don’t worry! It’s never too late to begin habit forming. With consistency, accountability, and clear expectations you can begin the journey into forming healthy habits at home. Do not be concerned if your child doesn’t take to new tasks immediately. It takes about 66 days for new habits to be formed. Be patient and don’t give up! As long as you do not waiver and you hold your end of the responsibility, yes, even through the tears and eye rolls,it will get easier and become more habit forming. Eventually they’ll get the hint that, Wow. Mom or dad mean business!
When you take responsibility for your child’s responsibility, they will respond! It may be hard in the moment at times, but think of your goal: raising a child who will be responsible enough to change the world. And that often starts at home with you creating healthy habits with our perfect recipe.
written by Brittney Mason
Tags: klassen cookies, responsibility