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Mother teaching young daughter how to load dishwasherHelp children develop a sense of responsibility

Nina Chen, Ph.D., CFLE, former Human Development Specialist, Jackson County, University of Missouri Extension


Children need to develop a sense of responsibility to be prepared for adult living. Teaching responsibility can begin when they are young and is one of the best values for children to possess.


Cooperating with and helping others can be an important way for children to learn responsibility. Parents can help children develop and improve their cooperative attitudes by giving them tasks that are challenging, satisfying and appropriate for their level of development. Children benefit when they feel that they are doing a real job and making a contribution to the family.


Regular family meetings are also valuable learning experiences, teaching children about decision making and cooperation. These meetings give family members an opportunity to discuss and work on issues, and to plan events or outings together.


Here are some tips that can help children learn to assume responsibility:


  • Give children clear and positive instructions for doing the task and plenty of time to complete it.


  • Avoid doing things for your children that they can do for themselves. Children must learn from their experiences through trial and error, and by taking the time to figure it out. Let children assume responsibility and accept their standards.


  • Ask children instead of ordering. Demanding or forcing children to do tasks is not the way to help them develop responsibility. Children will be willing to help out when they feel they are needed and are made to feel they can do the job.


  • Use consequences. It is important that parents explain what the consequences will be for breaking a limit, which will help children develop a sense of accountability for their actions.


  • Be a good role model. Children are learning by watching and imitating what they see their parents do. Parents need to model appropriate behaviors, such as keeping promises, sharing, cooperating, helping, taking care of their belongings and being responsible.



Hamilton, A. 2006. Teaching Children Self-Control and Self-Responsibility: Parenting 101. University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension.

Tucker, B. 1998. Building Responsibility. University of Arizona Cooperative Extension.


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Last Updated 03/06/2017