September 30, 2011
All parents want to see their children grow and become happy, healthy, and productive adults.
Our children come to us as infants in need of constant care. As children grow, they become
capable of and enjoy being independent in many ways. One of the most important aspects of
healthy child development is building in children a sense of personal responsibility. Yet
effectively providing both freedom and responsibility for children can be a somewhat tricky
balance for parents.
How can you support the healthy development of personal responsibility in your child? This
is best accomplished by beginning when your children are young. Provide age-appropriate
opportunities for your child to develop a sense of personal responsibility. Here are a few
• Teach and model self-control: Mealtime can be an opportunity to remind
your children to listen when others speak, not interrupt others, and wait
their turn to speak.
• Working quietly on their own: Establish some quiet times at home when
your children are encouraged to study or read independently.
• Coping with disappointment: This is often difficult for parents to watch,
yet guiding your children in dealing with small disappointments now will
help them deal confidently with them throughout life.
• Set clear rules and limits in your home: Children thrive under structure,
so stick to the limits you set. A good rule of thumb is to have a few important
family rules and enforce them.
• Offer choices: When possible, offer your children appropriate choices.
Children need the opportunity to make choices so they learn to take
responsibility for their own behavior. Naturally, younger children need
simpler choices than older children do.
• Encourage your children to lend a helping hand: It is never too early to
teach children the joy of serving others.
Everything you do to teach the values that are important to you will help your child along the
path to independence and responsibility. Know that God's hand will guide you in this very
important work with your child.
Richard D. Hart