How to Teach Children to Honor Their Commitments

It's good for children to learn to honor their commitments. It helps them to be more responsible and to become trustworthy people.
How to Teach Children to Honor Their Commitments
Maria Fátima Seppi Vinuales

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Maria Fátima Seppi Vinuales.

Last update: 16 December, 2022

In the following article, we’ll talk about the importance of teaching children to honor their commitments, and tell you how to go about it. In the beginning, adults and parents do everything for the children. We pack their backpacks, sort their clothes, and organize their school supplies. Eventually, they reach elementary school and, with that, they begin to assume more responsibilities.

This happens because children progressively gain autonomy, and it’s important that we accompany them and are there to help them develop their potential. Teaching children to honor their commitments is essential for them to learn new skills and begin to insert themselves into life in society. Let’s see how we can do it.

Learn how to teach children to honor their commitments

There are different ways we can teach children to honor their commitments. Here are some of them.

Make them part of household chores

A teen girl cleaning the table while her mother vacuums.
It’s a good idea to assign children and young people some chores to do at home. To do this, it’s important to take into account their age so that they can honor their commitments accordingly.

Involving children in household chores is a way of exercising responsibility. However, we must keep in mind that the commitments we assign them must be appropriate for their age. When this doesn’t happen, we can end up frustrating them. For example, we can tell them that every day they must make their bed and that every Thursday they must tidy up their room.

Show your child what the consequences are when they don’t honor their commitments

Let’s look at this situation. Your teenager had to take a bath before their younger siblings returned from soccer class. This way, there would be no bathroom delays and everyone could get to the movie on time. If they didn’t, at that time, without anger and with a lot of assertiveness, you’ll point out that you’re short on time now and that they’ll arrive when the movie has already started. This way, the young person will notice that by not fulfilling their responsibility, there’ll be a consequence that will affect them and others.

Be a role model

This is a simple but key measure. At an early age, adults are the main references for children. Therefore, we must display those behaviors that we want them to repeat. For example, if they constantly see us making excuses about our lateness or about some issue, they’ll believe it’s the right thing to do and they’ll replicate it.

Adapt the way they need us to help them

Some kids will find it a little harder to be a little more memorable and remember what to bring to the next class. So, we can help them with a few extras. For example, for younger kids, we can tell them that they should always come home with three things (or whatever number it is): Their backpack, their coat, and the toy or main item they used for the day’s activity. In the case of teenagers, we can suggest that they use alarms or a notebook.

Recognize their effort and achievements

Just as it’s important to call attention when children don’t fulfill their commitments, it’s also important to do so when they do honor them. Therefore, it’s good to congratulate them for their achievements and acknowledge their efforts in the same way that you point out their mistakes.

A mother hugging her son because she's proud of him.
Congratulating your child for their efforts and achievements is important to reinforce their self-esteem and to show them that you value their work.

The benefits of keeping commitments

There’s a time when we adults have to assume that children grow up, develop their own tastes, and must start to be responsible with their obligations and tasks. Sometimes, we may feel that we’re less important to them, but this isn’t the case. We simply begin to occupy another role in their lives and we must adapt to these new circumstances. Being overprotective parents doesn’t prepare them for the realities of the world. In fact, it leaves them without wings and with enormous difficulties when it comes to managing on their own.

The fact that children and adolescents are responsible and fulfill their commitments makes them become people who can be trusted. On an internal level, it also allows them to feel useful and valuable, thus reinforcing their self-esteem.

You may be interested in: What Responsibilities Can 7-Year-Old Children Assume?

Dialogue should be the first step

When children don’t fulfill their commitments, it’s important that we can ask them what has happened. It’s key that we don’t remain with our own ideas and assumptions For example, assuming that it has been due to laziness, that they know that there’s always someone to do their homework for them, or because they’re very disorganized. These labels lock them in and almost function as a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we believe that they’re not capable of taking responsibility, that will end up happening, because that way, we damage their self-esteem and make them believe that they’re not capable.

In this regard, the first thing to do should be to ask them what has happened. For example, why they didn’t feed the pet or didn’t tidy their room. An open question, without an accusatory tone, is a good way to help gain understanding and insight. In addition, the answers may surprise us. For example, maybe they didn’t understand how to do it, didn’t know how to organize themselves, or were simply afraid. As a result, we’ll be able to tune in and empathize with that situation and be able to offer them help.

Explain the point of keeping commitments

Keeping commitments can sometimes be tedious. That is, sometimes we make a point of getting up early to go to tennis class, but when the time comes, we’d like to stay home. It’s important that we also teach children to see the other side. But, at the same time, we need to help them make sense of why they do it. For example, when they come to tennis class they meet their friends and have a good time, or when they win a medal, they’ll feel good about the effort they put into it.

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.

  • Goleman, Daniel. El cerebro y la inteligencia emocional: nuevos descubrimientos. B de Books, 2015.Bilbao, Alvaro (2015) El cerebro del niño explicado a los padres.Plataforma Actual.
  • Monsalvo, Eugenio & Sousa, Renata. (2008). El valor de la responsabilidad en los niños de educación infantil y su implicación en el desarrollo del comportamiento prosocial. Revista Iberoamericana de Educación, ISSN 1681-5653, Vol. 47, Nº. 2, 2008. 47.

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