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Responsibility and Resilience

Updated: May 9

Young children have been raised in different ways but all parents want their children to grow up as strong, responsible adults. In more recent years, parents provide an enormous amount of support for their children and so they end up not taking direct responsibility for a number of their actions early enough

Teachers are noticing that some children in the Early Years (Ages 3 to 5) are not able to feed themselves, change their clothes, pick up after themselves, and so on. This is a growing concern as the teachers are unable to tick these developmental milestones in on-going teacher assessments.

As educators, we are aware that parents in the 21st century have increasingly limited time with their children. Some are therefore handicapped as to strategies to implement in this regard so providing multiple levels of support becomes a tool and the children end up having several adults at their beck and call. Where challenges and limitations are identified, an increasing number of parents are unable to plan and implement interventions.

Leading child psychologists have written severally about developmental milestones and about simple routines, tasks, and procedures that can help us all as parents support our children’s growth and development. I have included links to two sites that elaborate on useful strategies.

I would like highlight some key points raised by Dr. Markham, a Clinical psychologist trained at Columbia University (full article available via the first link).

  • Always let children “do it myself” and “help” even when it’s more work for you.

  • Rather than simply giving orders, try asking your child to do the thinking.

  • Provide routines and structure.

  • Teach your child to be responsible for his/her interactions with others.

Taking the time to help young children understand the need to take responsibility for themselves and others around them, extends to taking responsibility for the environment and their communities at large.

Hard work never kills,” said the sage. “I know it won’t kill me, but I’ll be half dead with exhaustion!” retorted the student.

  • How do we teach our children to keep trying in the face of challenges?

  • How do we get them to persevere, such that they think through their problems and come up with creative possibilities?

Creativity and Innovation, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, are two of the four key 21st century skills that our students need. The others are Collaboration and Communication. Getting children and young people to persevere in the face of that challenging word problem in mathematics, for example, is a consistent target for educators globally. Educators in cosmopolitan settings see this challenge compounded by the fact that theirstudents are from backgrounds where they have multiple layers of support, so they do not develop high levels of resilience and perseverance from a young age.

Michael Grose, an Australian educator, shares very interesting ideas in his blog “Parenting Ideas.” ( He suggests the following, among other ideas:

Look for teachable moments. Many children’s learning opportunities are disguised as problems. Make the most of these opportunities so that children can grow and learn from the challenges they face.

In other words, don’t race to solve problems for them. Discuss the challenges and then talk through solutions where they build up their life skills. The full article can be found via the link; it does make interesting reading and the strategies extend to teenagers, grandparents and teachers.



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