Chatter on Children
Teaching a Child Responsible Behavior Begins at Home
Parents are teachers, too. When it comes to child rearing, one of the most important lessons a parent can teach their youngster is responsible behavior. This means helping the child learn how to interact with others in a way that displays self-respect, as well as respect toward others. No child comes into this world pre-programmed with good manners and virtuous attributes such as a willingness to share, consideration for the feelings of others, respect for others possessions, respect for authority figures, and a selfless attitude. Considerate, responsible behavior must be taught while a child is very young so that it is instilled by the time they are older, when irresponsible behavior risks evolving into criminal behavior. Teaching a child about responsible behavior begins at home.
It is accomplished by setting a good example on a daily basis. Parents do this by being conscientious about exhibiting maturity in the ways they deal with other people, react to stressful situations, disagree with others, make choices, etc. Parents can help their children grow into responsible adults by being a positive role model. Helping them learn how to think, feel, and act responsibly, and to pursue their own interests without becoming insensitive of the needs and feelings of others. Accountability, fairness, honesty, courage, and respect toward self and others are important character traits.
Many parents help instill these qualities by sharing deeply held religious and moral convictions with their children. Showing “why” these attributes are important as a foundation for ethical behavior, even when difficult or not materially rewarding. Responsible behavior is a cultivated trait. It is a characteristic formed over time, made up of our outlook on life and daily habits. Responsible people behave that way whether or not anyone is watching, and regardless of how others may act. There are several aspects of responsible behavior that should be highlighted to children. At the top of the list is Respect and Compassion toward others. This should be the corner stone for all other aspects of responsible behavior: *Honesty *Courage *Self-control *Self-respect. Respect and Compassion: Responsible behavior is impossible apart from respect and compassion toward other people, as well as other life forms. Compassion dictates kindness and an unwillingness to intentionally cause suffering or pain.
Respect dictates basic manners and consideration toward others. Concern is exhibited through both feelings and actions. Honesty: To be honest means not only telling the truth to others; it means being honest with one’s own self. It means making decisions based upon truth and evidence, not upon self-serving motives or prejudice. Courage: When a person is courageous, they take a position and do what is right, even when there is risk involved. It means facing duties instead of behaving irresponsibly, recklessly, or carelessly. Self-control: Self-control is the ability to act responsibly, and resist inappropriate behavior. It involves sticking to long-term commitments, and dealing with anger and other emotions in a responsible manner. Self-respect: When a child is raised to be honest, courageous, and to exhibit self-control, they automatically learn to respect themselves. It is as they respond to people and circumstances in a responsible manner and learn to make responsible choices that they discover self-respect.
And it is self-respect that will hold your child in good stead as they grow, mature into adults, and then perhaps become responsible parents with children of their own to rear. For specific ways to teach children responsible behavior, visit the Savvy Baby Gear web site. ©2006 Lori S. Anton Savvy Baby Gear Editor.
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