5 Steps to Teach Kids Responsibility

Teaching Responsibility to Elementary Students

The Skill – Teach Kids Responsibility

A few synonyms for responsible are: honest, capable, reliable and trustworthy. It will be a marvelous day when your kids are all grown up and you see you’ve raised amazing adults. The years of hard work were worth it. And you know your kids are  prepared to take on life’s challenges.

Raising kids isn’t always easy. It’s often a challenge. As a mom you will spend years dedicating time, money and lots of energy on your kids. Raising responsible kids doesn’t take extra effort. You just need to know how to spend your time.

When it comes to teaching your kids responsibility, the hardest part is often NOT putting in a lot of effort. You will need to hold back and not help your kids. The best way to teach responsibility is by letting your kids learn on their own – even if that means they will experience failure.

It is not always healthy for you to hover over your kids. Constantly watching for potential obstacles and then working to remove those obstacles. Instead, you need to allow your kids to learn responsibility all on their own.

Your job is to teach them about what is means to be responsible and then step back as they learn on their own. You allow them to learn from their own mistakes. And you allow them to learn when they deal with the consequences of those mistakes.

You may think that sounds harsh, but truthfully, the only harsh reality will be the struggle and challenges your kid will face as an adult if they don’t learn how to be responsible for themselves.

The Solution – Let Your Kid Be Responsible For Their Own Homework

One of the many ways for your child to learn how to be responsible is by letting them be responsible for their own homework.

You’re thinking, duh, of course my kid does their own homework. That would be irresponsible and dishonest of me as a parent if I did their homework for them. Rest assured, there is more to homework than completing a worksheet or assignment.

A couple different aspects of homework include:

  • bringing homework home
  • remembering to do the homework
  • doing best work
  • remembering to take the homework back to school
  • turning homework in to the teacher

It may be easier to say than do, but as a mom, you need to step back and let your kids be responsible for their homework. But just because you step back doesn’t mean you’re not still involved. Let’s look at 5 ways you can step back and allow their kids to be responsible for their own homework.

5 Steps to Teach Responsibility

The How – 5 Steps to Teach Kids Responsibility

In order to teach your kid how to be responsible, you must trust them. You trust them to get their homework done and turn it in to the teacher. Trust means you can take a step back and allow your kids to show you what they are capable of.

T – Teach

Teaching your child why they need to be responsible is key to them learning how to be responsible. You can’t expect your child to just know why. Talk to them, give them examples, show them in your own life times when you need to be responsible. And also teach them about potential consequences of not being responsible.

Teach them about a homework routine. If you don’t currently have a routine, you can work with your kid to set up a routine. Every family looks different, but maybe your currently homework routine looks something like:

Go through your kid’s backpack and find their homework

Set them up in a nice comfortable place to do their homework

Encourage them to work on each problem

And neatly place the homework in their backpack

Take one step at a time and find a way for your kid to be responsible for that step. It’s a little too much to expect your kid to handle every aspect of their homework on their own when you’ve been helping every step of the way. Maybe start by letting them get their homework from their backpack. Or have them put it back into their backpack.

R – Repercussions

Let your kid sink or swim on their own. This is not always easy, but it is so important.

If your kid is responsible for a specific step in their homework routine you need to hold them accountable. Maybe in your family, the kids are responsible for putting their completed homework in their backpack. At the end of an evening you’ve verified everyone’s homework is done and everyone says their homework is put away in their backpack. You must resist the urge to double check. Or if you find the homework after the kids have left for school, resist the urge to run the homework to the school.

Kids will need reminders as they are learning, but a reminder is different than confirmation a task is complete. Let your kid realize the consequence. They will learn for themselves what it means to be responsible.

Keep your eye on the prize. The prize is not 100% homework turn in for 1st grade. The prize is a responsible adult. Don’t short change yourself or your kid.

U – Uplift

Praise your kid for a job well done. Give them a specific example of what you liked and tell them how it made you feel.

If you kid is struggling to be responsible, stay positive and make sure to point out what they are doing right. There will be plenty of opportunities to correct behavior and put them back on the right track.

Make sure you’re uplifting them and giving plenty of praise.

S – Support

Every kid will need support and lots of reminders. As your kid is learning to be responsible, you should ask if they have homework or point out other school activities so they can manage their time appropriately. Support is necessary. Just make sure you are truly playing a supporting role and not taking over.

You can also set goals for when your kids will be 100% responsible for part of their homework routine.


Younger Kids – Use a sticker chart or another reward system to show progress.

Older Kids – You will want to work toward the goal of your kid being 100% responsible for all aspects of their homework.

If your kid is in their last year of elementary or middle school, teach them about expectations for middle school or high school. Use the year as a trial run to prepare them for the next year. Your future self will thank you for allowing them time to practice these responsibilities before they become a reality.

T – Try Again

Your kids will fail while learning how to be responsible. Even responsible adults experience mistakes and failures. The key is always trying again.

Part of being responsible is owning your mistakes, learning from them and trying harder the next time. If your kid makes a mistake, all is not lost. There is always an opportunity to learn from the mistake and try again.

Whether you feel frustrated with the learning process or your kid is struggling with being responsible for their homework, never give up. Always acknowledge the mistake, renew your commitment and try again.

The Support

Teaching your kids to be responsible is a big obligation for every mom. It’s not a skill that kids will learn the first time and it can even become a new struggle as kids get older. We are here to help, but please know just like you we are always learning and no one is perfect.

Everyone makes mistakes and that is ok. It’s not just ok, it’s completely normal. We are all doing our best each day. At Active Happy Kid, we want to support you and your family. We want to figure out life’s challenges, find ways to make life easier and learn from each other.

Let us know the best way we can support you in the comments below. If you have any advice on how you’ve helping your kids learn to be responsible please let us know in the comments below.

You may want to check out the post: Why your kids should set personal goals

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