Is responsibility a trait only of regular children or applicable to children with special needs?
Assuming you have a list of various behaviors and skills yet to be achieved, attaining responsible behavior may seem to be at the far end. You may even wonder the need for such a trait at this juncture of your child’s intervention.
Instilling responsibility in a child is to ingrain him with various life skills. It teaches them to be independent, assume control of their lives, to contribute to their external environment and to gain satisfaction from the same. Though the task may seem herculean, teaching your child to be responsible is quite simple and can even be fun. Here are 3 simple tasks you can start with
Tidy up: If your child has toys, they should also have a toy basket. After play time, bring the toy basket to the center of the room and ask your child to gather up their toys and place it within the basket. If their toys are scattered throughout the house, give them a carry bag to collect the toys and to put back in the toy basket. Similarly, if your child has spilt water or milk, before your round of thorough cleaning, give them a washcloth to wipe up the water. Along with tidying up, it also teaches them not to spill liquids.
Simple chores: Encourage them to help you with your chores. These can include collecting clothes from your clothes-line, giving you the clothes clip one by one, helping you in folding and replacing clothes at least into their cup-boards, taking items out of your shopping bags etc. Appreciating and rewarding your child for a job well done will brighten their faces and motivate them to perform better.
Setting a routine: Your child may be dependent on you for all the daily tasks, but identify at least a small component that they can try out, for example, washing their hands after a meal. This should then be reinforced until your child assumes it as part of his responsibility. Gradually, you can train and increase the number of steps performed independently.
While these tasks may help you in instilling responsible behavior, the following tips may assist you in the planning and executing phase:
Start early: The younger the child, the easier it is to teach them. Moreover, skills learnt at an earlier age is easily retained and absorbed as part of their routine.
Assistance: Demonstrate the task or use pictures, flash cards and cue cards to assist with the learning.
Practice without fail: Teaching your child these skills takes time and effort and may seem difficult amidst your busy schedules and duties. However, the joy of attaining results is so immense that it is a motivator by itself.
Sarah Mary Joseph
Sr. Occupational Therapist
Prayatna, Centre for Child Development, Cochin