Home page Psychology blog Child and Adolescent Behavior Self-Discipline Irresponsible children. Culturing a medium for growth

Irresponsible children. Culturing a medium for growth

15.04.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

“I have no idea how to make my child more responsible. He is already in the second grade, and he is totally irresponsible. If I don’t pack his bag, he forgets pens and notes at home. I make his bed, I organize his things, I place his shoes on a shoe rack. I am already tired of it.”

– Tatiana, 31

Many parents want to foster the sense of responsibility in their children from the very young age, even from birth. Should we really make them take responsibility for all their actions, or should we help them develop this quality on their own?

Let’s talk about ways to create a medium for becoming independent naturally, and about fostering independence in teenagers.


  1. What makes children be irresponsible?
  2. Teaching your child to be responsible
  3. Fostering responsibility in teenagers, even if it is too late

What makes children be irresponsible?

how to teach a child responsibility

Responsibility and independence are closely related. Both these traits indicate psychological development and growth. A mature person can make their own decisions, control their behavior, take responsibility for their actions, distinguishes various emotions and can control them, understands their needs.

Ideally, by the end of high school teenagers can be responsible for their actions and have basic control of themselves. However, this does not happen to everyone.

We will help to cultivate useful skills in your child

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Independence is a practical skill, like mental arithmetic. If a person has a chance to develop proper mindset and learn to take responsibility for their decisions, they will inevitably learn to be independent. 7Spsy behavior modification course provides exactly the opportunity. However, a person who has no such chance can be impeded by negative mindset and habit of irresponsibility.

There are two main reasons that affect proper maturing:

  1. Over-protection. Parent or other adults who take part in upbringing often do things for them and stop any attempts to become independent. They think that it’s better to do things fast and properly, rather than let a child take a lot of time to perform the task independently and poorly. As the result, an adolescent cannot take responsibility for their actions and does not act independently.

“I always poor the juice for the daughter myself, because she will definitely spill it and won’t clean it properly. I also help her dress, she is still small, spends a lot of time and always cries when she cannot do this. I better do it myself.”

– Olga, 23

  1. Fostering independence prematurely. When we push our children to do something they are not ready for, they start to feel anxious and uneasy. Children will behave like adults, but will they become adults this way? No! A small child may imitate actions of grown-ups, but this will be a mere imitation, not a sign of maturity. For example, five year old children cannot control their emotions due to immaturity of their brains. Adults can make them hide and suppress emotions, but they cannot make a brain mature early. Trying this is like pulling on a tree sprout in hope that it will grow faster this way.

Both approaches to upbringing will not foster independence, however the parents might want it, because they do not provide a proper and timely solution. What should we so then?

Teaching your child to be responsible

how to develop a sense of responsibility in a child

You can follow the same tactic to foster responsibility in both teenagers and younger children.

Psychologists advise the following:

  1. First, it is important to understand that maturing and independence are a long process which cannot happen overnight. However, you can create a proper medium for your children, based on the sense of safety and affection towards their parents. This way, children will gradually develop skills necessary for becoming independent. [1]
  2. Pay attention to immediate area of development [2] in order to teach them independence. This area includes skills and abilities that a child cannot yet use themselves, only with the help of their parents. For example, a child might not be able to cook themselves breakfast, but if the parents cut the ingredients and switch on the stove, it becomes possible. By engaging in activities together with parents children acquire skills and get used to performing independent actions.
Here is the flow of the maturing process: parent does something instead of a child—when a child is ready, they do it together—when a child learns the skill, a parent moves aside, ready to help anytime.

For example:

A mother wants her son to pack his schoolbag.
Stage 1.  Mother packs the bag together with him.
Stage 2.  Mother watches son pack the bag and sometimes provides valuable comments.
Stage 3.  The skill is acquired, and the boy can pack his bag independently. He also knows that he can ask his mother for help when needed.

Of course, each child learns the skills at their own pace, which depends on the complexity of action and individual traits. However, if the child is unable to perform an action alone, maybe they are not yet ready to learn the skill.

3. Remember that the process of fostering responsibility has its ups and downs. Children might decline doing something they already can due to exhaustion, crisis or simply the desire to feel safe and cared about. For example, a preschool child asks parents to dress or feed them. It is important for the child to feel that they can trust you and rely on you. Be by their side in order to support them when needed.

What should we do if we have already made mistakes in upbringing? How can we teach independence to teenagers?

Fostering responsibility in teenagers and schoolchildren, even if it is too late

Parents often realize that it is already too late by the time their children reach adolescence. At this point, the parents are already tired of expecting their children to act responsibly. The most useless thing to do at this stage is to start blaming yourself. Sense of guilt does not help. It is much better to think how you can improve the situation and teach your teen to be responsible and independent. First, select activities that you will do together with your child, and you must have a solid understanding of the ways this activity will foster responsibility

In order to fix the situation faster, you can try our 7Spsy behavior modification technique. The child performs tasks from home, which already is teaching them independence. We will always keep in touch. Our psychologist will support a child and answer all their questions (in online chat, by e-mail or phone, etc.). This makes the process of modifying behavior faster, compared to weekly in-person consultations with a psychologist. In just 2-6 weeks you will see how your child becomes more responsible and independent.

We will help to cultivate useful skills in your child

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All classes are completely private, and your child can easily keep them secret from friends and teachers.

Please remember that children are not hatchlings. You should not push them out of the nest. Instead, create favorable medium for their healthy and natural growth.


  1. Based on books by G. Neufeld, the author of attachment-based developmental approach.
  2. Based on zone of proximal development theory by L. Vygotsky.