“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” – Denis Waitley

Responsibility is a word we’ve heard since we were very young, but what does it mean to you? Being responsible can be slightly different for everyone, but we can all agree that it is a character trait that doesn’t develop overnight. Achieving it requires time, a conscious effort, guidance, and repetition. 

To help prepare our children for a successful future, teaching them to be responsible is vital. Responsibility is a life skill that comes into play during every stage of life, and the sooner we start teaching our children the virtues of this skill, the better. 

If you are looking for ways to guide and encourage your child to be responsible while allowing them to make their own decisions, keep reading below! 

1. Lead By Example

It’s true; the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! So be empathetic and respectful toward your child’s feelings. This way, you will show them how valuable they are and what is expected from an emotionally responsible person. Regardless of your child’s age, practice being specific when providing them with positive feedback, and start giving them age-appropriate chores to do at home. Chores teach kids about responsibility, respect, and can help develop their work ethic. By contributing to the household, your child will start learning about being accountable, a skill that will benefit them not only at home but through their academic journey and future professional ventures. 


Create a weekly chores list and choose how to delegate them together. By working and deciding together, you will show them how much you value their input while helping them create attainable weekly goals. When you two work together toward common goals, you will embrace the power of teamwork and responsibility. 

2. Choices, choices, choices…

The earlier you start teaching your child how much you respect their individuality by giving them the opportunity to choose, the faster they will start developing their independence. Being independent looks different at every age, but cultivating it in the household by giving them age-appropriate options will create a sense of responsibility that will benefit them in the short and long run. 


Before any big household decision, like planning a vacation or buying new furniture, do a family meeting and include them in the brainstorming and decision-making process. When your child learns they are valuable family members, they will start making more conscious decisions and eventually start choosing what is best for themselves and the people they care about.

3. Every Action Has Consequences

This one can be tricky for many parents! Instead of overprotecting your child, help them practice self-reliance by allowing them to face the natural consequences of their actions and behaviors. For example, if your child doesn’t want to help with laundry, they may experience the results of not being able to wear that clothing item they like so much on their next outing (or even worse, running out of clean socks!). Then the likelihood of them helping out with laundry will increase in order to avoid these consequences. Remember that making mistakes is not necessarily bad; they can help create a sense of resilience, responsibility, and perseverance; all of which are essential for a successful life. 


If your child doesn’t want to finish their homework or refuses your assistance, they will likely face the natural consequences at school. While it may be difficult not to swoop in and force them to finish their homework, you can use this as a learning lesson. This can help your child learn to accept the assistance of others when it’s offered, and in the long run, they will thank you for showing them the pros and cons of being responsible and independent. 

4. Reward Improvement

Words of appreciation, a hug, or a trip to get their favorite ice cream, can be great ways to reward your child for their hard work and improvement toward becoming a responsible young person. Keep in mind that it is not about bribing them but about letting them know their progress is valuable and appreciated. 


Show your child that appreciation comes in many forms. By volunteering together in the community, you will help your child realize their ability to contribute to bettering themselves and their community. This rewarding feeling can have a lifelong impact on their outlook. 

Setting goals, working together, embracing consequences, and rewarding positive actions are all vital to help develop your child’s sense of responsibility in every aspect of life. Remember, being less pushy and more empathetic will lead to better results. If you need assistance finding a school that will challenge, nurture, and help develop your child’s responsibility beyond the classroom, take the ScholaMatch™ and find the right schools in your area to help bring out the best in your child and prepare them for a brighter future.