5 Ideas to Encourage Responsibility in Children

Responsibility is an unquestionable value for living a happy life. Therefore, it's important to encourage responsibility in children.
5 Ideas to Encourage Responsibility in Children
Sharon Capeluto

Written and verified by the psychologist Sharon Capeluto.

Last update: 19 February, 2023

Responsibility isn’t only associated with commitment to work, school, or chores at home. In fact, it’s a much deeper value. Being responsible also means being in charge of one’s own existence, that is to say, of one’s own emotions, decisions, actions, and their consequences. Here, we’ll give you some ideas on how to encourage responsibility in your children.

This means that responsibility can and should be nurtured in all aspects of life, from the most everyday and trivial issues to the most transcendental.

How to encourage responsibility in children?

If you want your children to become people committed to their work, their studies, and their relationships, it’s essential that you adopt a responsible attitude in your own life. It’s not about being rigorous or overly demanding, but about being able to be actively involved in what you’re committed to and recognizing the consequences of what you do and say.

Here are some of the main recommendations when it comes to fostering responsibility in children.

1. Leave problems unresolved

A child who doesn’t need to be responsible, won’t be responsible. In other words, when the adults around them constantly solve their problems for them, in the immediate moment in which a conflict arises, they hinder the development of their autonomy. In this case, we’re talking about one of the risks of overprotection.

A child and his dog picking up garbage in the woods.
Allowing the child to solve situations allows them to acquire cognitive and emotional resources and make use of them. On the other hand, helping children when they don’t need it is a mistake because it distances them from independence.

2. Stimulate decision-making

Another interesting strategy for children to encourage responsibility is through decision-making. The truth is that, from a very young age, children can choose between different options. For example, they can choose between two or three T-shirts to wear, decide whether they prefer to eat a banana or an orange, or choose between some toys to give to a friend for their birthday.

Through small choices, children learn to decide on an alternative and understand that each decision implies a loss. Therefore, offering options and giving them the freedom to choose among them allows them to achieve greater independence, while at the same time, they become familiar with the sense of commitment and responsibility that comes with responsibility.

3. Convey confidence

Emphasizing children’s abilities and strengths will be valuable for their self-esteem. And this is a non-negotiable aspect of getting ahead in life. In this regard, parents must trust them and convey that trust to them.

For example, we can convey confidence to them through the words: “Try, I think you can do it,” “I believe you can do it on your own , and I trust you to do your best.  We can also encourage them through actions, for example, by giving them simple household chores or asking them to help us do something they’re good at.

4. Encourage autonomy

Autonomy and responsibility are two great companions and allies. The truth is that one hardly exists without the other. If we give our children the possibility to manage on their own tasks that aren’t dangerous to their health, we’ll see significant benefits in their growth.

As they grow, the repertoire of actions they can perform alone will increase. First, they’ll be able to crawl without the help of an adult, later they’ll take their first steps, then they’ll be able to acquire the habit of brushing their teeth every day without you having to remind them, and then they’ll be able to go shopping alone at the grocery store. Therefore, the quest for autonomy will happen progressively.

A child doing his homework on his own.
Children should know that when they’re not responsible for what pertains to them, this has consequences. For example, if the child doesn’t study, they won’t be able to pass the subject.

5. Point out the consequences

Every responsibility is linked to a burden. The fact that a person is responsible doesn’t mean in the least that they must do everything right. Taking charge of one’s emotions, decisions, and actions implies taking risks and accepting negative consequences.

But also, not fulfilling one’s commitments entails consequences. That is, it doesn’t matter whether or not one carries out one’s responsibilities. It’s important to point out, for example, that if they don’t pick up their toys in their room, no one else will do it for them; if they don’t study for an exam, they won’t get a good grade; or if they don’t take care of their school supplies, they’ll have fewer crayons to color with.

Responsibility is an essential value

As parents, it’s imperative that we foster responsibility in children. This learning is essential for living a fulfilling life and for building strong, healthy social bonds. According to the age and resources of each child, they’ll be able to develop this social value and take charge of household chores such as setting the table or putting away toys. They’ll also be able to assume, little by little, that their actions have an effect on the emotions of others.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Elguera Martinez, M. (2019). Fomentar la autoestima en el niño para un buen desarrollo socio emocional. Educación, 25(1), 63–66. https://doi.org/10.33539/educacion.2019.v25n1.1770
  • Gómez, O., Nieto, M, J. (2013). Cómo fomentar la autonomía y responsabilidad en nuestros hijos e hijas. Guía para Padres y Madres. CEAPA. España.
  • Orrego Caballeros de LLenera, A, E. (1996) Manual para fomentar la responsabilidad y el manejo de la disciplina para padres de niños en edad escolar. Trabajo de investigación. Universidad del Valle de Guatemala. Facultad de Ciencias Sociales.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.