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Teaching preschoolers responsibility: It’s a partly acquired and mostly learned trait

There’s no greater satisfaction for a young child, than to accomplish something that they’re responsible for. Staff and teachers at Silver Spring preschool know that discharging those responsibilities successfully, and consistently, is vital for building self-confidence in children. And knowing they’re responsible for doing something – even something as small as leading a group of youngsters out of class and onto the playground – can be a huge morale booster. The challenge for parents, teachers and home caregivers, however, is how to teach preschoolers about responsibility.

Why is Teaching Responsibility Important?

Teaching kid’s responsibility is important because kids, who learn about being responsible early in life, are more likely to be successful as adults. More specifically, the positive outcomes of delegating responsibility to youngsters include the fact that:

  • Responsibility brings a sense of satisfaction to children
  • It gives kids a feeling of accomplishment
  • It can boost a child’s morale
  • It builds trust and respect for them among their peers and family

If you want your preschooler to become independent as they grow older, then instilling a sense of responsibility in them is essential. Teaching them about responsibility will also give them a firm sense of understanding right from wrong, and the desire to always do what needs doing, when it must be done. Being responsible for specific roles or tasks also gives youngsters an opportunity to show they’re dependable, and that they may be trusted to make the right choices.

Empathy for others, self-discipline, and an appreciation for time management are other aspects that taking on responsibility promotes. And, because children in preschool in Silver Spring MD are often tasked with responsibilities that entail doing something, delegating them those responsibilities is a great way to encourage physical movement at an early age.

More importantly, along with responsibility comes accountability. In teaching preschoolers about being responsible, adults also impart another critical lesson: That the youngster is accountable for the actions that he/she are responsible for. In imparting those lessons, kids understand that others depend on them to diligently discharge certain responsibilities assigned to them – like putting things back in their rightful place when play day is over today, so others can easily find them tomorrow.

Learning about responsibility, and then discharging their responsibility to their fullest abilities, also serves to unlock a child’s full potential. It teaches them about decision-making, and about owning-up to failures – for things they were responsible for – and being proud of their successes. And those are traits that’ll serve them well, not just through their pre-schooling years, but also through higher-schooling, in their professional lives, and in other personal, social and communal roles they’ll later undertake.

Setting the Stage for Responsible Kids

Clearly, a responsible nature isn’t something that a child “inherits” from parents and family members. And neither do preschoolers automatically “pick up” responsible attitudes from just attending day care or pre-schooling institutions. It’s true that a child’s upbringing – family life – does play a vital role in infusing a sense of responsibility in them. However, family and home caregivers, as well as staff at a preschool in Bethesda MD must play a proactive role in setting that stage by making responsibility a part of a child’s lifestyle.

What Can Adults Do to Make Kids More Responsible?

As an adult with influence on young children’s upbringing, here are some things that you can do to set the stage for teaching preschoolers the importance of responsibility:

  • Start small: Even preschoolers are old enough to shoulder some responsibility – but not for an entire “project”. For instance, if you want to eventually hold them responsible for cleaning-up their rooms, then start by putting your preschooler in charge of putting away his/her toys each day when playtime has ended. Gradually, expand that role by delegating the responsibility for cleaning-up everyone’s toy’s – all their siblings, visiting family members, or play-date friends.
  • Lead by example: When it comes to leading by example, there’s no easier way to teach young kids about responsibility than by letting them watch you act responsibly. It’s important to show preschoolers what responsible behavior looks like. Young children attending preschool in Potomac MD often watch what their teachers and caregivers do – e.g., putting away books and toys in the toy bins before leaving the class – and then imitate their example.
  • Explain it to them: It’s easy to show kids what responsible behavior looks like, but their minds aren’t yet developed to a point that they intuitively understand what you’ve done. For instance, often, your preschooler will wonder why you put some toys on lower shelves, and others higher-up – even when there’s ample space on the lower shelves. It’s therefore important to explain why that’s the responsible thing to do: Keep heavier toys out of reach of younger kids, and make it easier for smaller children to access age-appropriate toys easily.
  • Make responsibility fun: Young children love fun and games, so why not have some fun while teaching them to be responsible? If your preschooler has a sibling (or you can fill-in for them!) give each a task to do – putting away books versus gathering and storing scattered toys. Then, have them race against each other to see who wins. Give away points, or reward them by letting the winner choose what cartoon they get to watch at TV time. Alternatively, teach your youngster a lesson in responsibility by agreeing to let them have a pet (puppy, fish, bird) only if they promise to be responsible for caring for it.
  • Make responsibility a routine: Teachers and care givers at preschool in Silver Spring MD know that, once a child understands what his/her responsibilities are, the next step is to make them realize the importance of doing things as a routine – without someone telling them what to do, or when. For example, explain to them that not being responsible and putting away toys at the end of the day can be dangerous, as people may trip or hurt themselves on misplaced toys.

Following these five stage-setters builds a great foundation for teaching your kids about responsibility. They also help youngsters shoulder their part of responsibility, whether it’s at home or at school, which sets the stage for them to grow into responsible adults as they enter other areas of society, including the workforce. But your teaching task isn’t yet complete! There are still a few things for you to understand about teaching responsibility to preschoolers.

Delegating Responsibility – The Finer Points

Our five-point strategy has set the stage for teaching preschoolers about responsibility. However, like all other lessons learned, not everything you teach them is enjoyable. The risk, therefore, is that your teaching efforts may not bear the fruits you hoped they would. Here are some things to keep in mind in order to maximize the outcome of your teaching efforts:

  • Make responsibility age-appropriate: If you want your preschooler to be responsible about doing something, start by ensuring he/she can do the things you hold them responsible for. It might not be a good idea to hold your preschooler responsible for ironing school uniforms and dress clothes; but they can help by piling clothes, that you pull out of the dryer, neatly into the hamper.
  • Give responsibility time to germinate: The worse thing for delegating responsibility is to expect that kids will immediately act responsibly! Teachers and staff at Silver Spring preschool know that it takes a lot of patience before young children demonstrate behavior changes. If at first your preschooler doesn’t “get it”, don’t worry! Eventually, once they see you (and their siblings and others at home or in school) doing the responsible thing, they too will embrace their responsibilities.
  • Avoid harsh criticism: No one – especially young children – loves criticism. It’s especially hurtful when adults criticize, yell, or shout at youngsters in front of their peers and siblings. If there’s corrective critique to be offered, make sure it’s done in private, and always in a calm and non-aggressive tone.
  • Go overboard with praise: When it comes to encouraging preschoolers to continue embracing responsibility, there’s no such thing as “too much praise!”. Each time a child does his/her share of responsible tasks, and even if they fail trying to do it, a round of praise goes a long way. And, if there are others in the circle – siblings, peers, day care attendees – make sure you lavish praise in front of them.

Above all, be mentally prepared for setbacks – it’s all part of the learning process. Some days, your preschooler may just not feel like putting away the toys that others have played with and thrown around the room. Teachers, staff and administrators at preschool in Bethesda MD know that, among the finer points, patience is a great virtue when it comes to giving young children a lesson in responsibility, because the alternative is not very rewarding!

This 4-point focus on the “softer touch” to inculcating responsibility among preschoolers has more to do with how youngsters receive the responsibility you entrust to them, as opposed to how you delegate it (using the 5-point strategy discussed earlier). Deviating from these finer points may lead kids to become overwhelmed, disheartened, and disinterested in the responsibilities you assign to them. Consequently, instead of willingly embracing it, your preschooler will shun and shrug responsibility.

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