Ten Action Steps to Teaching Responsibility

Outline of a healthy way to encourage responsibility through the years

I found this article by Dennis Waitley when I was looking through my hard drive. Great to read if you have young children – or in fact any time in life.

School children - I took this last time I was in Bali

School children – I took this last time I was in Bali

It begins early …

  1. When children are old enough to understand, they should put away their own toys, play materials, eating materials and bathing materials.  They should be responsible for making their beds and keeping their personal belongings in order as a regular routine.  Never pay children for doing something for themselves; in so doing, it actually robs them of self-esteem and is a form of bribery.
  2. Responsibilities should be set for each family member; for operating the home (which later becomes the business) there should be regularly chores, at certain times on certain days.  Payment may be given in the form of strokes, allowances or special privileges.  Whatever is done should be checked, approved and paid for on a relative scale, similar to that which will be encountered away from home.  Preteens and teens should have savings accounts and/or checking accounts and should go in person to open them and make withdrawals.  Dream lists should be encouraged and posted in a prominent place.  Children should be encouraged to save their money for very special dreams they have had for three to six months minimum and even longer if possible.

It continues …

  1. Television should be off unless eyes are on it.  Programs should be selected from the TV schedule as to their value, interest and plot.  Alternate forms of diversion should be planned;  plays, books, concerts, recitals, museums, seminars, educational videos, walks, talks, ghost stories, games – anything to stimulate the creative imagination and get control.  When controversial shows are watched on TV they should be discussed during the commercials and afterward, with all views listened to, rather than challenged.  Television should not go into the right-brain subconscious of a child, teen or adult without at least a logical review.
  2. Until your teens fly the nest, it is your responsibility to know where they are, who they are with, pretty much of what’s going on and when they’ll be home.  Any friend should be welcomed to your home.  The best way to know what kind of environment your kids are into is to invite the peers over and observe first hand.  The second way is to meet the parents of your children’s friends.  Set rules that both parents will enforce.  Set them in advance with you children and ask them what penalty would be fair for breaking the rules.  The penalties children assign themselves, if they’re involved in the process or rule-setting are usually a lot tougher than the parents assign.  Be consistent in your demands and in you discipline.
  3. Do not buy your children a car.  If you must, after they have saved for the down payment, co-sign a note at the bank to guarantee that they will pay it back.  Kids should make their own car and insurance payments.  Cars that are given by parents get condemned at least three years earlier to the junk pile than cars purchased by the children: a child who buys his own car, polishes it twice as often.  If there is any evidence of any use of alcohol or drugs connected with your teens’ or young adults’ use of an automobile, automatically take action for a 3-6 month period.  A teenager dies every twenty-three minutes in a car crash!

And it continues all through life …

  1. Carry the moto with you in all your teachings: “Life is a do-it-yourself project.”  When your subordinates bring you a problem, you should ask them first, “What do you think we should do about it?”  When you give suggestions, be certain to give the responsibility for the solution and follow through back to the subordinate.  Resist the temptation to take the easy way out and do it for them.
  2. Don’t talk about drug abuse and irresponsibility, and come back late from a liquid lunch.  Never preach what you don’t practice.
  3. Become a role model for your peers and those you want to lead.  And always model yourself after people you respect.  Don’t model yourself after the group which you run.  I saw an entire sales staff who smoked the same brand of cigarettes as the marketing manager (and it was a health care insurance firm!)
  4. Let your children, employees and subordinates make mistakes without the fear of punishment or rejection.  Show them that mistakes are learning devices that become stepping-stones to success.
  5. Never make excuses for anything.  If a commitment can not be met, always call immediately with the reason.  Never make excuses after the fact.  Procrastination of any decision leads to the rationalisation of failure.  Never make excuses to the people you’re leading.

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