A sense of responsibility is an awareness of one’s obligations. It can be defined as a general conscious awareness; "a sense of security"; "a sense of happiness"; "a sense of danger"; "a sense of self". Sense of responsibility is an important factor that cannot be overemphasized even in our society.
A lot of people in our society have misplaced sense of responsibility which may have been influenced during childhood due to a few factors which I intend to very much highlight here. It’s amazing how the society have been infected both politically, economically and socially by both the ruled and rulers. I am going to be placing much emphasis on the Child because this inadequacies ought to have been corrected as a child. Misplaced identities I have come to believe with time have been due to lack of a sense of responsibility even in children and adults.
Imagine this scenario; a Christian child who is allowed to pray in a mosque for reasons best known to parents or the reverse, will grow up with a misplaced sense of responsibility as it pertains to religion; a child who is allowed to wear the opposite sex’s clothes will perceive it as a normal thing to be a gay, lesbian or a transgender; a child who steals and is left unpunished will think it right to steal again and again. It has become quite clear that parents are responsible to some extent for these societal misconducts and behaviours.
Children need to develop a sense of responsibility to be prepared for adult living. Teaching children responsibility can begin when they are young and is one of the best values for children to possess.
Cooperating with and helping others can be an important way for children to learn responsibility. Parents can help children develop and improve their cooperative attitudes. Children learn their cooperative attitudes through tasks that are appropriate for their levels of development and tasks that are challenging and satisfying. Children also develop these attitudes through family projects and when they feel that they are doing a real job.
A regular family meeting is a valuable learning experience for decision making and teaching children about cooperation. During the meeting, family members discuss problems and issues and plan events or outings together. This process helps children learn cooperation, decision-making, problem solving and responsibility.
Here are some tips that can help children learn to assume responsibility:
- Give children clear and positive instructions for doing the task and plenty of time to complete it.
- Avoid doing things for your children that they can do for themselves. Children must learn from their experiences that take trial, error and time. Let children assume responsibility and accept their standards.
- Ask children instead of ordering. Demanding or forcing children to do tasks is not the way to help them develop responsibility. Children will be willing to help out when they feel they are needed and are made to feel they can do the job.
Be a good role model. Children are learning by watching and imitating what they see their parents do. Parents need to model appropriate behaviors (e.g., keeping promises, sharing, cooperating, helping, taking care of their belongings and being responsible).
FOUR CRUCIAL WAYS TO DEVELOP SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY IN CHILDREN
1. Face them with the consequences of their actions . This does more than ‘rub their nose in it.’ Facing their consequences can be both positive and negative. It attaches their actions with results achieved in the world around them and reinforces the notion that their actions cause something to happen. It creates positive self-efficacy. In both positive and negative situations, it demonstrates that they can do something. Use consequences, which teach children responsibility and decision making. It is important that parents explain what the consequences will be for breaking a limit and help children develop a sense of accountability for their actions. Parents should mind "not too do it too much" as this can also affect their self esteem, causing them not to believe in themselves. It is important to add here that such child should be told why he or she is being punished or going through that phase. This helps the child have a clearer view and see what he or she has done.
2. Develop a sense of empathy. Understanding something from different viewpoints helps a child to consider different ways of acting in the world. It provokes observation and sensitivity to what’s going on around him/her. This leads to the observation that someone has to do something if a situation is to be improved. A child could also learn to develop empathy from parents. Children learn easily just by watching adults - one cannot give what he/she does not have. In the same vein, children should be able to cultivate the habit of empathy from their parents/guardian.
3. Cultivate their understanding of themselves. Gifts, talents, sense of place and resources are all intrinsic to a child’s ability to navigate its way in the world. If a people does not understand his/her self – if they don’t see their own potential – how can they see that they can do something. In Secondary School I was encouraged by my teachers and family that I had great artistic talents in which I was prodded to pursue. Though I’m not quite the famous artist but I’m glad I followed this potential to the best of my ability and it’s leading me to places right now. I have also cultivated this understanding in my little nephew who is quite the smartest kid you could have a real conversation with even at 6. How did I do this? one might be tempted to ask. I simply encouraged him e.g. when he spells words from his Scrabble I clap and say "wow, Victor is intelligent" and if he is able to use his initiative where situation demands, I simply tell him "You’re smart boy" and this has created a self confidence in his abilities. Now it’s important not to do this all the time and this may build pride in such a child.
4. Create an activating incident. Does this sound manipulative? No, it isn’t. By putting people in situations where they are required to carry the burden, you help them test their mettle and learn to carry the load. It’s all about growing. When my little nephew asks me questions sometimes, I ask him the same question and this triggers him to reply the correct answer. Why is this? Because at that moment, doubt in his abilities is about to set in, I simply ask him the question because I know he knows it and for him to believe in himself once again.
OVER-SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY IN INDIVIDUALS AND ITS DANGERS
Have you ever considered your sense of responsibility and if it’s working for you or against you in what you ultimately want to achieve in your life? Being responsible is definitely essential. However, your degree of responsibility could be getting in your own way. That is of discovering who you truly are as an individual and what you have to contribute and experience in this world. Fear of the unknown, reasons or excuses we tell ourselves or others can simply get in the way. As a result, we remain on the same path or in the same situation without trying something new, and therefore limiting our true potential and outcomes. A case of when sense of responsibility is working against us here. It’s a universal truth that anything extreme is not necessarily good for us.
Exercising to exhaustion, becoming a workaholic, overdosing on fiber/vitamins/water/caffeine, excessive worrying, and feeling stifled in development or in a career are all examples of when our commitment to goals has exceeded the limit. We may have even neglected to listen to our heart, mind, body, and soul. Recognizing when this occurs is important so we can take a step back. Then decide if this is the way we want to continue. You always have a choice and you can decide today what you want your path to be now and for the future. Some planning is essential for success. Planning is when sense of responsibility is working for us.
As long as we allow ourselves to execute new actions that would lead us to embracing change and the new journey. Next time, when you are struggling with making some difficult decisions in your life, connect with yourself on a deeper level and ask yourself these few questions. Then really listen to the answers and considering journaling what may come up to reflect on it further.
- What does your heart tell you? (Passion/Love/Desire)
- What does your gut tell you? (Intuition)
- What does your body tell you? (Physical/Stress indicators/Emotions revealed)
- What does your mind tell you? (Rational Responsible self)
Try to find some harmony between your heart, intuition, body, and mind. Think through your approach, and then create a step-by-step plan for yourself with action steps. You may need to compromise in the short term to achieve your long term success and dreams.
Thanks for reading this article. Please share to people you care about; developing a sense of responsibility is crucial to everybody including me.