Here in the Law & Order section, we talked about the treasure trove of trust or 3T’s and there is a complimentary component, namely the ‘responsibility reservoir’.
The trust aspect involves your child’s ability to tell the truth, even if it’s uncomfortable and to know that you will act openly and fairly when receiving the truth.
The responsibility reservoir is different. It involves your child’s ability to be responsible for an increasing number of things as they grow. Can they be responsible for brushing their teeth, cleaning their rooms, doing their homework or chores? Can they be responsible for looking out for each other when playing outside or when they are old enough, staying home by themselves?
Are they responsible enough to handle cell phones and all of the social media that relates to having that cell phone?
I had a teacher who once said, ‘With freedom comes responsibility.” This is too true. As our children grow, they want and need more and more freedom. Yet, if they do not know how to handle responsibility, than how can they handle freedom?
For our children, I started talking about responsibility very early and it was too esoteric for them to understand. When I started talking about the responsibility reservoir, however, it gave them a more concrete way of thinking about it. I would say things like, “Brushing your teeth, making your bed and picking up your toys helps fill your responsibility reservoir.” Or, “Your reservoir is pretty empty because you are not brushing your teeth, etc.”
When they were younger, they wanted that reservoir to be filled up as high as it could go. There was something really neat to them to ‘see’ that body of water filled to the very top.
Now that they are older, they don’t have that same need. However, they have learned responsibility. Now they want to be responsible because they know it will allow them more freedom.
If your children are younger, think about using the responsibility reservoir. It certainly helped us. If they are older, the freedom with responsibility is just the ticket.