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Teaching Responsibility to Kids in One Word: Communication

*This is post was created in partnership with Ask, Listen, Learn. All opinion is my own.

Teaching Responsibility to Kids in One Word: Communication

In January I shared a word for this year… RESPONSIBILITY (you can read that post here).

PARTY IN THE HOUSE!

But seriously… teaching responsibility is pretty important. Even when our kids are very small, we teach our kids about responsibility… whether it’s the responsibility of picking up one’s own crayons or managing allotted screen time.

As our kids get older, the price tag for responsibility goes up. The consequence of not putting away crayons is much smaller compared to the consequence of say… underage drinking.

How has our year of “responsibility” been going?

Relentless.

I often feel that the entire purpose of every parenting decision I made revolves around the idea of hoping my kids learn this valuable lesson.

Here’s a conclusion I am coming to: learning responsibility isn’t centered around the consequences and rewards we (parents) decide upon. Learning responsibility is centered in the relationship we build with our kids.

Teaching & learning responsibility

If parents are the #1 influence on their kids’ decision to drink – or not drink alcohol, then it is imperative we (parents) work hard on developing the relationship with our kids. The influence we have when teaching responsibility will lack strength and meaning if we fail to recognize the importance of building communication with our kids.

The folks at Ask, Listen Learn have created a great graphic: Building Communication for a Healthy Lifestyle. In this graphic, they share some great ideas on how to intentionally build communication between parents and kids. Sometimes we parents forget that talking TO our kids is not the same as communicating WITH our kids. 

Download above graphic here.

If we are not mindfully working on communication with our kids, it’s very possible some day we could turn around and wonder… “What happened?” The above idea sheet gives lots of easy, actionable items parents can start doing with their kids right now. Communicating with our kids does not just take place at the kitchen table or in the car… there are dozens of communications with our kids throughout the day. For example, just sitting in the stands and showing up for your child, closing that laptop and looking up, or putting down the phone can positively communicate so much more than any string of words.

Teaching lessons like responsibility are much more effective inside healthy parent-child relationships. And by “healthy parent-child relationship” I do not mean “perfect” nor do I mean “conflict-free”. Conflict is unavoidable, especially in those sensitive tween years.

I am especially drawn to the part of the graphic suggesting open-ended questions. I especially like the question, “When you are a parent, what do you think you will do differently?” That answer could potentially open up a FANTASTIC conversation. But parents… check your ego at the door before you head into that one *wink wink*

So. That word of the year… RESPONSIBILITY.

My own efforts ebb and flow. It can be easier than I like to admit for me to get distracted by busy-ness and gloss over opportunities to go deeper. Then there are the times I get on my soapbox and miss the mark completely by shifting the opportunity of a conversation into a dramatic monologue. I am so good at that one. I know you know what I mean, too. Parents, we are reeeeeeally good at monologuing, aren’t we?

I want to encourage you to recognize the best times to connect with your kids. Make note and see if you can take better advantage of those opportunities. In our home it tends to be during meals, and during kitchen chores. Lately, instead of the usual revolving kitchen duty that rotates to each individual kid each night, I have been having ALL of us work together in the kitchen. We all reach the reward of finishing sooner, and we can’t help but chat, giggle, and discover new music together while we are working together.

Kids’ learning responsibility begins with us. If the side-effect is a positive, communicating relationship with our growing kids… that is just a really awesome side effect. Hmph… I kind of think I just might be learning more about my own responsibility in my relationship with my kids that I bargained for…

 

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