Teaching youth responsibility - Character Series Part 3

Young people today need to understand what it means to be responsible and that their actions could have consequences.

The definition of responsibility from the Wikipedia dictionary is 1. The state of being responsible, accountable, or answerable. 2. A duty, obligation or liability for which someone is held accountable.

Teaching youth about responsibility can be challenging at times. As parents and caregivers, we need to give youth opportunities so they can learn about being accountable, understanding their duty and being answerable to their actions. It is also important as a parent to model this behavior and be honest so that they know everyone does make mistakes. Sometimes there are consequences for what we do or don’t do.

Consequences should be used to help teach youth about cause and effect when it comes to their actions. It is important as parents and caregivers that our youth know what the expectations are, for example a curfew time. It is also important that consistent consequences are used so mixed messages are not being sent. According to the book Parenting To Build Character in Your Teen, when setting up a consequence keep in the mind the word SANE.

            Small consequences are better.

            Avoid punishing yourself with the restrictions you place on your child.

            Never abuse your child with a consequence.

            Effective consequences are consistent consequences.  

Responsibility is the third pillar in the Six Pillars of Character®, from the framework called CHARACTER COUNTS! created by the Josephson Institute of Ethics. These pillars of character are great tools when talking with youth and adults about character and doing what is right and wrong. The Six Pillars of Character ® include: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship.

Michigan 4-H Youth Development programs help youth develop character through their 4-H projects and experiences. 4-H provides opportunities for youth to strengthen their character through exhibiting projects, leading groups, participating in events and so much more.

To learn more about how to bring character education into your community, read these articles:

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