A Teacher/Mom’s Perspective: Children Need an Appropriate Amount of Responsibility
If you're a Spider-Man fan or a French major (Voltaire), you've heard the quote, "With great power comes great responsibility." Honestly, you've probably heard this quote even if you don't fall into one of the previously mentioned categories as long you haven't lived under a rock for the last two decades. While chatting with friends some time ago, one of them quoted this, but accidentally reversed the two nouns saying, "With great responsibility comes great power." Of course, we laughed, but the new version of the quote has stuck with me for quite some time now. For this reason, I'd like to examine how the words power and responsibility are symbiotically intertwined, kind of like the chicken and the egg.
Is it possible to have power without responsibility? Would any corporate leader have been given a leadership position without shouldering responsibility in daily tasks and beyond? Once in a position of power, does a person have the luxury of no longer being responsible? These are all questions I've been pondering, and while I'm sure exceptions exist, I'd have to answer "no" to each of the preceding questions.
Keeping all of this in mind as an educator along with the knowledge that we're developing future leaders, we need to take this concept a step further and ask ourselves how we develop responsibility in children without overwhelming them. It's definitely a delicate balance! Giving children too much responsibility can backfire because developmentally they aren't ready – a child's primary purpose after all is to play! However, giving children no responsibility can result in laziness, helplessness or even entitlement. When these traits continue into the teen years, it can be very difficult for others to interact with them. We've all observed this behavior in young adults and older ones too, and it's difficult to witness these qualities!
Let's explore appropriate levels of responsibility by assessing how we tell children to "clean their room". This directive can be overwhelming, but if you break it up to picking up toys one day, putting clothes away the next day, and vacuuming and dusting still another day, it's not as daunting of a task to the child. As an added bonus, when things seem less intimidating, they are more likely to be completed!
At Best Brains Learning Center Bloomfield Hills, when we teach children a new concept, we give them an appropriate amount of daily practice with that topic to cement the concepts (some people might call this homework!) This daily practice has an added benefit of teaching children responsibility. It’s not too overwhelming with pages and pages of repetition, but rather 10 – 15 minutes per subject daily with a clear purpose of strengthening a child’s understanding.
Help your child have the necessary tools to be successful in any goal by giving him or her an appropriate amount of responsibility as he or she grows and matures. This responsibility will give your child the power to choose his or her own path and to be successful in his or her undertakings. You never know; by giving your child this gift, you might be raising our next superhero!