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The Secrets of Teaching Social Responsibility - THE GENIUS IN CHILDREN

The Secrets of Teaching Social Responsibility

by Rick on August 7, 2013

Teaching Social Responsibility

What I keep learning from my children and my grandchildren:

I like to work“I like to work.”

musa “Me, too.” (Of course)


Four little secrets for getting kids to help around the house?

  1. See children as members of the community wanting to be generous and helpful.
  2. Don’t call opportunities to help chores.
  3. Start early–earlier than you think.
  4. Act as if this kind of thing is fun, and we all like to work for those we love.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Marianne White Dunlap August 7, 2013 at 3:51 am

Absolutely agree with #1and #3. However, children know when we are “acting” and not being authentic. “Fun” is not an adjective I would use for “work.” Work is satisfying, enjoyable, and rewarding; however, it can also be challenging, difficult, and exhausting. Work can be a chore. It is not a game to play, but an activity that gives a child an opportunity to contribute to his family or school. Children can do hard things and can learn to become responsible for things that are necessary to do. It’s all about the development of the will.

Sasha August 8, 2013 at 1:46 am

While I do agree with Marianne White Dunlap to some extent, I do wholeheartedly agree with what attitude we put on “chores”. When my children feel my resistance to a “chore”, they mimic me and we have a harder time learning to like it. But when I have a good attitude toward it, they learn to like it or love it. We can make games of “chores” and make them fun. And later on, they will enjoy working to show themselves that they can do it with a good attitude. This is no theory, I have seen it work many times in my children!

Rick August 10, 2013 at 12:49 am

Sasha and Marianne, Very nice. To disagree with anything either of you are saying would be to quibble foolishly. We see eye to eye. I will say that I and others have had a lot of fun doing things that are commonly considered work, like putting dead vines in the composting bin, raking leaves, doing dishes and setting up chairs in the multipurpose room–and that kids, especially have a better chance of having fun doing these things than adults who have learned they are not supposed to like them because they are “work.”

Marty Dutcher August 24, 2013 at 11:59 am

Great list and comments! It reminds me of “clean up time” in my preschool class at the beginning of one year many years ago. When I announced “clean up time,” even in an upbeat tone and began cleaning up myself, the children saw through my manipulation and did not start helping. It was then I experimented. I just ignored them and asked myself, “How can I enjoy this myself?” I realized that clean up time was something I never liked and avoided in my house when I was a kid. I went and got one of the large wooden trucks and started driving around the room and filling it with scraps of paper, crayons, etc. I then drove to the trash can. By this time, one or two kids came over and wanted to help. I said, well, I’m the driver but you could be the trash facility crane and lift out the trash and put it in the trash can – which she did. The other went to get another truck, and soon nearly everyone was inventing roles for getting everything put away. When the room was 95% done, I parked the truck and “pulled up” in another car. I said I was the inspector from the city, and there were several bits of paper, a broken crayon, and an out of place block still “on the streets.” They were immediately cleaned up by the waste department.
(Never did I draw any attention to any of the children who were not joining in and “helping.” Gradually every one of them either joined in or wanted to but the clean up was over. And clean up time was never a problem afterwards (well, not never, but rarely) even though the original way we did it kept changing.

Now I have to say it was fun, but it wasn’t that I thought it was fun that made that work. I credit my improvisational workshops and the inner nature (“genius”) of children to want to participate and not be “made” or “gotten” to participate. This “context” for participation or responsibility can be accomplished in many ways other than by what I did, but, n my view, not by “teaching” nor by doing things “in order to get” children to do what we think they should. To me, I could call this the development of the will, but I wouldn’t. It seems to me the “will” is already existing and just needs a safe and creative environment that calls it out.

I think we all are on the same page!

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