How Can I Build My Child’s Sense Of Responsibility?

By: Debra Eckerman Pitton, Ph.D. and Kelly Quinn

Part of the "Q & A for Parents of Middle School Students" series

Responsibility is a big part of life, and it is the job of parents and teachers to help students develop this skill. Children should be responsible for things even at an early age - washing the dishes, doing house chores, going to bed on time, etc. Often, as parents, we remind and direct our children in these activities. As young people enter middle school, more responsibility is placed on them, they may now be babysitting or helping fix meals, and less direct supervision by parents should be provided, especially regarding schoolwork. Homework is much more abundant, and learning to meet school deadlines can become a major challenge.

So, you're wondering how to build this responsibility? Start by checking to be sure your child knows what his/her responsibilities are as well as your expectations. Add a time schedule so they know when you would like the responsibility to be completed (i.e. homework needs to be done by 8:00 pm, in bed by 9:30pm). If there are other specific items that need to be finished, post a list for your child to see. Help the student set goals for accomplishing both home tasks and school tasks. Try to help build accountable for setting up and following through on goals pick a person to have your child share their goals with — someone who will check up and make sure they are following the guidelines of the goal. Meeting goals builds responsibility as well as personal satisfaction when the child has accomplished what they set out to do.


Debra Eckerman Pitton, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Middle Level Education at Gustaus Adolphus College in St. Peter , MN and consults with school districts across the country on issues of mentoring and middle school education.

Kelly Quinn is a senior education major at Gustaus Adolphus College and will be graduating in May, 2005 with an elementary and middle school teaching license.

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