Irresponsible children. Culturing a medium for growth

Apr 15, 2019

“I have no idea how to make my child more responsible. He is already in the second grade, and he is totally irresponsible. If I don’t pack his bag, he leaves his pens and notes at home. I make his bed, I organize his things, I place his shoes on the shoe rack. I am already tired of it.”

– Tatiana, 31

Many parents wish to foster a sense of responsibility in their children from the earliest age. Should we really make young people take responsibility for their actions, or should we help them develop this quality on their own?

Let us talk about ways to create a medium for becoming independent naturally, and about fostering independence in teenagers.

What makes children become irresponsible?

Responsibility and independence are closely related. Both of these traits indicate psychological development and growth. Mature people can make their own decisions, control their behavior, take responsibility for their actions, distinguish and control various emotions, and understand their own needs.

Ideally, by the end of high school teenagers should be responsible for their actions and have basic control over themselves. However, this does not happen to everyone.

Independence is a practical skill, like mental arithmetic. If a person has a chance to develop the proper mindset and learn to take responsibility for their decisions, they will inevitably learn to be independent. The 7Spsy behavior modification course provides exactly such an opportunity. However, a person without such a chance can be impeded by a negative mindset and thus develop the habit of irresponsibility.

There are two main reasons that affect proper maturing:

  1. Over-protection. Parents or other adults who take part in the upbringing of children, often do things for them, and stop any attempts to become independent. They think that it is better to do things quickly and properly, rather than let the child take the time to perform the task independently, albeit poorly. As a result, an adolescent cannot take responsibility for his/her actions and does not act independently.

“I always pour the juice for my daughter myself because she will definitely spill it and won’t clean it properly. I also help her to dress. She is still small, she takes a lot of time, and always cries when she cannot do this on her own. It is better for me to do it myself.”

– Olga, 23

  1. Fostering independence prematurely. When we push our children to do something they are not ready for, they start to feel anxious and uneasy. Children like to behave like adults, but will they become adults this way? No! A small child may imitate the actions of grown-ups, but this will be a mere imitation, not a sign of maturity. For example, the immaturity of the brain prevents five year old children from controlling their emotions. Adults can chastise them and suppress their emotions, but they cannot make a brain mature early. Trying this is like pulling on a tree sprout in the hope that it will grow faster.

Both the above approaches to upbringing will not foster independence, however much the parents might wish for it, because they do not provide a proper and timely solution. What should we do then?

Teaching your child to be responsible

You can follow the same tactics to foster responsibility in both teenagers and younger children.

Psychologists advise the following:

  1. It is important to understand that maturing and independence are long processes which cannot happen overnight. However, you can create proper conditions for your children, based on the sense of safety and parental affection. In this way, children will gradually develop the skills necessary for gaining independence. [1]
  2. Pay attention to immediate areas of development [2] in order to encourage independence. These include those skills and abilities that children cannot yet use without the help of their parents. For example, a child might not be able to cook his/her breakfast, but if the parent cuts the ingredients and switches on the stove, it becomes possible. By engaging in activities together with parent or carer, children acquire useful skills and get used to performing independent actions.

Here is the flow of the maturing process: parent does something for the child—when the child is ready, they do it together—when the child learns the skill, a parent moves aside, ready to help only if needed.

For example:

A mother wants her son to pack his schoolbag.

Stage 1. Mother packs the bag together with him.

Stage 2. Mother watches son pack the bag and sometimes provides valuable comments.

Stage 3. The skill is acquired, and the boy can pack his bag independently. He also knows that he can ask his mother for help when needed.

Of course, each child learns the skills at his/her own pace, which depends upon the complexity of a specific action and individual traits. However, if the child is unable to perform an action alone, maybe he/she is not yet ready to learn the skill.

  1. Remember that the process of fostering responsibility has its ups and downs. Children might refuse to do something they already know due to exhaustion, specific circumstances or simply the desire to feel safe and cared about. For example, a preschool child may ask a parent to dress or feed him/her. It is important for the child to feel trust and confidence in the adult, and for the adult to be there in order to give support when needed.

What should we do if we have already made mistakes in upbringing? How can we teach independence to teenagers?

Fostering responsibility in teenagers and schoolchildren, even if it is very late

Parents often realize that it is already very late by the time their children reach adolescence. At this point, parents are very tired of expecting their children to act responsibly. The most negative thing to do at this stage is to start blaming yourself. Fostering a sense of guilt does not help. It is much better to re-think how you can improve the situation and teach your teen to be responsible and independent. First, select activities that you can do alongside your child. You need to have a solid understanding of the ways such activities will foster responsibility.

In order to remedy the situation more swiftly, you can try our 7Spsy behavior modification technique. The child will be required to perform tasks from home, which already encourages independence. We will always keep in touch. Our psychologist will support the child and answer all his/her questions (in online chat, by e-mail or phone, etc.). This makes the process of modifying behavior more efficient than weekly in-person consultations with a psychologist. In just 2-6 weeks you will see how your child has become more responsible and independent.

All classes are completely private, and your child does not need to share them with friends and teachers.

Please remember that children are not hatchlings. You should not push them out of the nest but rather create a favorable medium for their healthy and natural growth. 



Information from this website cannot be used for self-therapy and self-diagnostics. 

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