Teaching our kids the joy of responsibility
I started my first job at the age of 14 at Best and Less, Hobart. I was a bit of a ‘deer with headlights’ in my first quarter of a year there probably because I found it so challenging, having more responsibility than ever before. Mr Copeland, my young, competitive innovative boss loaded me up with all kinds of jobs ranging from sorting out a giant box of hangers, tidying and organising the menswear department and even being one of those super-annoying spruikers, hollering as people walked by to come and get themselves a bargain. Spruiking helped me lose my inhibition of crowds and it was my favourite part of the job. After working in the store nearly full time over the summer holidays, my friends recognised a marked difference in my maturity. Reflecting on this, I am certain that having responsibility as a young teenager helped me mature emotionally and develop self-confidence.
When it comes to our children, it is imperative to train them to be responsible men or women that contribute to their community. According to the Center for Parenting Learning, there is a correlation between children who have high self-esteem and that show higher levels of responsibility. They are better at:
· waiting for what they want – they believe that with persistence and practice they can reach a goal
· acknowledging their mistakes and learning from them
· sticking to a task
· being clear about their strengths and weaknesses
· taking risks and trying new things
· believing that they can solve problems they encounter
Whether it’s understanding that it’s their responsibility to empty the bins each day, clearing the kitchen table, vacuuming the floors, keeping their bedroom clean, or as simple as putting their toothbrush away, it’s clear that these small steps are critical towards the development of your child’s autonomy and their self-efficacy for what life will bring.
I strongly believe in teaching our children that we are wired for more than life’s simple pleasures alone. Rather, satisfaction comes through meaningful work and responsibility. Decades down the track, I’m planning on spending many days at Mooloolaba sipping lattes. I imagine, however, by day 769 and 2938 lattes later I may consider that there is more in store for the remaining years of my life than bottomless cups of creamy concoctions! Hopefully, I’d be able to make a meaningful difference in the lives of my family, church and community in whatever capacity I can afford. Whether you believe in God or not there’s a great scripture regarding this that I think we can all agree upon. It’s from the book of Ecclesiastes 2:24: “A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God.
This next week can I encourage you pre-plan just one thing that you want your children to do to demonstrate responsibility. It could be as simple as unpacking their bags each day, putting their shoes away, or even helping with the laundry. The long-lasting effect of the hours put into our kids will help set them up for the rest of their lives teaching them one thing means there’s one less thing you have to worry about! Even if your kids don’t work at Best and Less, they can slowly learn responsibility at even the youngest age which will build their self-esteem, their capacity and fulfilment in life. With a little grunt comes growth!
Jonathan Cooper, Primary Teacher and Team Leader