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Summerdale School Summerdale, AL

Counselor's Corner

Helping Your Child to Become a Responsible Adult

  • Start early.  Even toddlers can put away their toys if helped by parents.


  • Set household rules.  They help children develop responsibility.  For instance, very young children can put their clothes in the hamper; older children can wash their clothes.


  • Enforce rules with established consequences.  For instance, clothing not placed in the hamper might not be washed. 


  • Set rules that are important to the quality of your family life.  Don't set too many rules; they may become impossible for children to remember and for you to enforce.  Explain the reason for rules, and follow them yourself.  Develop rules appropriate to the ages of your children. 


  • Help your children meet their responsibilities.  If youngsters have trouble getting up in the morning for school, buy them an alarm clock.  Show children how to keep lists, make a calendar, or use reminder notes. 


  • Give your children guidelines to help them meet certain responsibilities.  For instance, if you give your children an allowance from which they are expected to take daily expenses such as lunch, let them know how you expect them to spend the money.  Also, let them know the penalties for misspending money. 


  • Reward your children's efforts to act responsibly.  A reward can be a simple "Thank you!" or a special treat.


  • Show your children how much you care about them.  Give them support, even when they fail.  Let them know that even though you may disapprove of their behavior, you still love them.


  • Show your children that you have confidence in their abilities.  Consider allowing your children to choose their own household responsibilities or rotating responsibilities among family members.  Doing so will help in developing a cooperative spirit among parents and children.


  • Start a family council.  Family councils give children practice in making decisions, understanding family rules, and developing cooperation and responsibility.  Family councils can make decisions such as where to go on a family vacation.  To start a family council, pick a regular meeting time and place where all family members can come together.  The council should be devoted to positive efforts to solve family problems and to make rules and decisions.  Name-calling and scolding should not be allowed. 


  • If you find your children cannot live up to certain responsibilities, think about whether they are too young to do what is expected or consider ways to assist them. 


Building Your Child's Self-Esteem
15 Ways to Help Children Like Themselves


  1. Reward children.  Give praise, recognition, a special privilege, or increased responsibility for a job well done.  Emphasize the good things they do, not the bad.
  2. Take their ideas, emotions, and feelings seriously.  Don't belittle them by saying, "You'll grow out of it," or "It's not as bad as you think."
  3. Define limits and rules clearly and enforce them, but do allow leeway for your children within these limits.
  4. Be a good role model.  Let your children know that you feel good about yourself.  Also let them see that you, too, can make mistakes and can learn from them.
  5. Teach your children how to deal with time and money.  Help them spend time wisely and budget their money carefully.
  6. Have reasonable expectations for your children.  Help them set reasonable goals so they can achieve success.
  7. Help your children develop tolerance toward those with different values, backgrounds, and norms.  Point out other people's strengths.
  8. Give your children responsibility.  They will feel useful and valued.
  9. Be reasonable.  Give support when children need it.
  10. Show them that what they do is important to you.  Talk with them about their activities and interests.  Go to their games, parents' day at school, drama presentations, and awards ceremonies.
  11. Express your values, but go beyond "do this" or "I want you to do that."  Describe the experiences that determined your values, the decisions you made to accept certain beliefs, and the reasons behind your feelings.
  12. Spend time together.  Share favorite activities.
  13. Discuss problems without placing blame or commenting on a child's character.  If children know that there is a problem, but don't feel attacked, they are more likely to help look for a solution.
  14. Use phrases that build self-esteem, such as "Thank you for helping" or "That was an excellent idea!" Avoid phrases that hurt self-esteem:  "Why are you so stupid?"  "How many times have I told you?"
  15. Show how much you care about them.  Hug them.  Tell them they are terrific and that you love them. 

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