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How Nannies Can Raise Responsible Children

Posted on by Erin | in Nannies

As a nanny, you are one of the most important primary role models for the children in your care. You want to see them grow and develop into responsible adults, and with some positive modeling and guidance through essential life lessons, you can foster a sense of responsibility within all the children you come in contact with.

  • Model Behavior: Every day the children in your care look to you as an example on how to act, communicate and treat others. One of the most important ways you can teach responsibility is to be a responsible adult in their presence. Regardless of age, children are aware of your actions and see you communicate with others constantly. Keeping true to your responsibilities will teach them how to be responsible themselves. For example, if you keep your room tidy, the children may follow suit. If you show them how you responsibly follow through with your commitments, they will see first-hand how to be responsible.
  • Develop Work Ethic: Your job as the nanny is one you likely cherish, yet you still understand that maintaining the position requires displaying ethics and working hard to fulfill your duties. When children see your work ethic firsthand it provides an example of how to be responsible. Prompt discussions of how work ethics can translate into their activities, suggests Jennifer Little, 40-year educator and educational psychologist in Milwaukie, Ore. “This develops through children taking ownership of their school work, grades, attitudes toward work and school and household chores,” she says. Teach the children that these tasks constitute a job, just as your job as a nanny requires time, effort and diligence.
  • Teach Consequences: Behavior management is really nothing more than shaping behavior through logical consequences, says Little. There are several ways to target, reward and shape behavior so that the end result is a responsible child.  The idea of logical consequences can teach your child to be responsible. For example, when you work, you get paid. Show the child that if he or she does not complete chores, then privileges will be lost or allowance will be relinquished. “This builds the concept of logical consequences and places responsibility for consequences on the child,” says Little. “The adult is not telling the child what to do, and therefore, being responsible for whatever outcome happens, but instead, making the child responsible.”
  • Promote Decision Making: One of the key skills a child must develop is how to make responsible decisions. According to Little, children need choices to develop this skill. Allow the child to pick out clothes to wear, provide choices for food at meal times and ask for preferences when planning activities. When children have choices and options, it can help them develop problem-solving skills. “Problem solving is a complex, interdependent series of decisions, some of which are dependent and some are independent,” she says. “Daily living requires a lot of this, but the skills of choices and decision making are the foundation for problem solving.”
  • Provide Volunteer Opportunities: Beyond displaying charitable actions to serve as a positive role model, offering children the opportunity to volunteer right alongside you can provide a lesson in responsibility. Volunteer the entire family to help at a local food pantry, make meals for the homeless or build homes for Habitat for Humanity. Not only will the children see the effects of their efforts in the community, these experiences will also expose them to communication with others. “The best life options involve thinking about others and others’ points of view,” says Little. “Responsible children almost always consider others; irresponsible children rarely consider (or care) about others.”
  • Delegate Responsibilities: One major component of developing as a child and person in general is learning how to care for yourself. Build a sense of responsibility by delegating household chores to the children, suggests Tracy Repchuk, mother of three children and online marketing and social media strategist. “Laundry, dishes, vacuuming, caring for pets and tidying rooms – these are all part of the normal responsibility of being part of a family,” she says. “Adding things such as washing the car, making breakfast or doing a task not on the list of normal responsibilities could be rewarded with a reasonable exchange.”

According to Repchuk, teaching responsibility at a young age can better prepare children for adulthood. “Responsibility is the ability to control your sphere of influence and because parents and nannies often don’t let kids do this, without the ability to control, it gives them the ability to not take responsibility for actions,” she says. “If a child is blaming, that means they feel they had no choice, no power, and therefore, can’t take responsibility, because it was never up to them.”

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